Client: Reeves County Hospital District
Location: Pecos, TX, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $90,000
Mowry Studio LLC
“A sculpture that embodies interconnectedness, resilience, and poise” was how I expressed my original vision for this project. I worked closely with RCHD and their architect, Perkins & Will, to understand the hospital’s culture, mission, clientele, and the lobby location for the sculpture. The concept of equilibrium in my sculpture, a metaphor here for health and wellness, was important from the start, as was creating a sweeping, vertical form that would connect the two-story atrium and not conflict with the large staircase it would be positioned near.
To achieve these aims, I developed a form that would reach 19 feet off the ground (including a one-foot tall pedestal), a strong but delicate, gestural shape that would be a focal point for each of the five approaches to the lobby from different parts of the hospital. Its shape and structure are calming, welcoming, yet energizing and, I hope, inspiring.
For material, I suggested steel with a warm, golden patina, as being low-maintenance and easy-to-clean were desired qualities for the project. My welding partner and I fabricated it off-site, then transported it in two sections, completing the final assembly on-site.
RCHD’s mission statement emphasizes three aspects of a patient: the physical, emotional, and spiritual. The executives and designers wanted a sculpture that would resonate with each of these. The form’s physicality and size (19 feet tall) and delicacy (standing on a single, narrow foot) connect to the physical nature of our own bodies. Its sense of poise and gentle strength, and its resilience, standing in a delicate balance seemingly against all odds, connect on an emotional level. The sculpture’s inherent balance is an apt metaphor for health and well-being. And its overall gesture, reaching and aspiring upward to the top of the atrium and beyond, the sense that it stands at the moment between a breath in and out, I hope connects with the spirit.
I gave great consideration to how to connect the first- and second-floor spaces of the atrium, and to creating a form with a small footprint (necessary for access requirements) that would still hold a commanding presence within the large space.
Lastly, the hospital and architect wanted the sculpture, like the building’s interior, to have a connection to the outdoors. Much of my work is nature-inspired abstraction, and this is a good example of that.
Like the metaphorical iceberg, most of the time and effort on this project happened before a single piece of metal was cut or welded. I began with sketches, then a 1:4 scale model in wood. From there, I leaned heavily on my wonderful partnerships with my digital modeler and engineer, and the three of us worked closely through many iterations of the design. They helped me create a plan for the form that would, first and foremost, fulfill the vision that I had developed with the client’s team, while also being structurally sound, able to be fabricated within budget, and feasible within the constraints of site access for installation.
Each aspect of the project was planned very carefully, so that by the time the metal arrived, fabrication was a relatively straightforward process, with no surprises. My welding partner and I completed all aspects of the fabrication together, two pairs of hands being critical for a project like this.
Achieving a uniform patina was actually one of the most challenging aspects of the process, as the lack of flat surfaces leads to uneven exposure to patina chemicals. In the end, Solving this just took time, testing, and practice.