Aurelia

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Client: Ritz Carlton

Location: Dana Point, CA, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $45,000

Project Team

Artist

James Aarons

James Aarons

Art Consultant

Sally Faulkner

Faulkner+Locke, Inc.

Overview

Aurelia is a flock of birds – American Cliff Swallows, flying through the grand concourse and reception rotunda of the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, CA. Each bird was meticulously formed by hand. Their dimpled surfaces are enhanced by a warm white glaze and bands of gold leaf that glimmer in the light of the day. Ceramic, metal leaf. 42'x6.5'

Goals

Hospitality spaces beg for elegance and fantasy. We wanted to generate interest within the context of a suspended sculpture but not tell a literal story. We were given rigid specs within which to work and had a tight production schedule - the hotel is in operation so every detail needed to be considered ahead of time in order to allow for a smooth installation. The concourse, a vaulted corridor, begged for soaring shapes that could summon joy and adventure without a hint of weightiness from above.

Process

Detailed discussions with art consultant, Sally Faulkner lead us from considering a collection of non-figurative forms toward something more specific to the location. We generated a list of possible subjects from wispy abstract forms to tumbling shells, driftwood, etc and finally settled on birds. We had size constraints to consider and the level of detail that each shape should present was a factor. San Juan Capistrano is nearby; American Cliff Swallows became our model. They gather along the Pacific coast in large colonies, are seen in soaring migratory flocks and present an elegant profile with blunt noses and fanned tails. And their natural size fit our specs perfectly with 8" wingspans.

Additional Information

I have collaborated with Faulkner Locke on numerous projects and appreciate that they recognize me for my artistic voice, almost always challenging me to create in a new language. Aurelia is no exception. With each proposal, they are clear and precise about their project parameters and also give me broad latitude to participate in the creative process. The attention to detail that Sally and her team employ matches my own.