Client: John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Location: New York, NY, United States

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $250,000

Project Team


Ralph Helmick

Helmick Sculpture

Industry Resource

Bob's Welding


Dormitory Authority of the State of New York


“Arbor” is a permanent suspended artwork for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
692 found timepieces, varied in size, style and vintage, form a colorful abstract composition.
When observed from a precise location on the building’s west entry ramp, this three-dimensional array coalesces into a depiction of the scales of justice, in a perceptual phenomenon known as anamorphosis.
The sculpture measures 17’h x 17’w x 38’8”d, and was commissioned by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.


The artwork is suspended above a student computer lab, in an aquarium-like space visible from the exterior to visitors approaching the building and from the entrance steps.
The subterranean lab space extends up to street-level. Natural light illuminates the sculpture from street-level window walls to the north and east.
The sculpture was designed with frequent viewing perspectives in mind – from the exterior street level, to the interior ground level, to the subterranean lab-user level.
The building is a recent addition to John Jay College, designed to unify the College’s various disciplines into a central campus. The sculpture resonates in its thematic approach of using individual timepieces, diverse in appearance but unified in purpose, to form a collective whole.


The artwork production involved close collaboration between the artist and fabricator, Bob’s Welding of Central Falls, RI. The drop ceiling for the sculpture was installed at the fabricator’s facility. Over three months, the artist and the fabricator assembled and refined the sculpture clock-by-clock against a backdrop outlining the artwork composition.
The sculpture and ceiling were deconstructed, packaged and shipped to site, where the artist, fabricator, and installation crew reinstalled the artwork.

Additional Information

Jurisprudence is complex, challenging and ever evolving. Time itself can seem both constant and elastic, especially when it concerns our legal system. “Arbor” is an expression of the interplay between the temporal and the judicial, grounded in an individual’s experience of time and space.