Client: LA METRO
Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $500,000
Zipporah Lax Yamamoto
Mosaicos Venecianos de México
Rebeca Méndez Studio
Public art commission by LA METRO for the Expo Line/Crenshaw Station. Glass mosaic mural, 10×96 feet. The sky, available to us all, is an equalizer of society and so is public transportation. Méndez captured one frame every 15 minutes, resulting in 96 moments of atmospheric time and portrays the diurnal rhythms of Los Angeles. From sundials to water clocks, humans have long devised ways to measure the passage of time. Méndez’s diagram intends to offer transit users a moment of respite from the artificial construct of time that dominates their days as they commute, work, play and sleep.
Metro Art enhances the customer experience with innovative, award-winning visual and performing arts programming that encourages ridership and connects people, sites and neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County. Méndez's artwork improves the visual quality of the transit environment and creates a sense of place, adds vibrancy and engages the communities around the Crenshaw station in Los Angeles. One of the oldest human inventions is the clock—‘rationally measuring time intervals.’ Water clocks, along with the sundials, were possibly the first time-measuring instruments. Our modern lives are tightly organized around the clock, yet our bodies relate to and are influenced by natural time—night/day/twilight (dusk/dawn)—differently. As the passengers descend to or ascend from the platform they are greeted by a field of harmonious tones of blue, that announce a more natural rhythm to our daily grind. Mendez’s artwork At The Same Time can be understood as a ‘sensate’ or emotional timepiece, serving as a peaceful respite in our busy day of commute, inspiring us to bring together our mind and body as we experience, if just for a moment, the fullness of time expressed in the sky above us.
The mural was fabricated by Mosaicos Venecianos de México, a family owned business, who's mastery awarded them to fabricate mosaic murals for México's renowned muralists, including Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Working with the artisans, the mural was ‘painted’ with the smallest of glass tiles in multiple tones of blues, greys and whites, in order to achieve the subtleties of the clouds and the vitality of the blue sky in a mosaic to contemplate. The irregular surface of the glass tiles will respond to the station’s light by mimicking the natural shimmering effect the stars and the sun create when they interact with the atmosphere and our perception. Each stone celebrates a moment of every day. Méndez's design composition is a gestural interplay of the sky's light and translucency, which are the most difficult aspects to express through glass mosaic. The artwork uses hundreds of unique colors created specifically for Méndez's mural. She travelled three times to the factory in Cuernavaca, México to work with the many artisans and it took the fabricators 18 months of trials to develop a new technique for interpreting Méndez's mural.
The artwork also investigates aspects of color perception. Since blue light is at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, it is more strongly scattered in the atmosphere than long wavelength red light. The result is that the human eye perceives blue when looking toward parts of the sky other than the sun.