Cloudbreak

Submitted by Catherine Widgery

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Client: Denver Justice Center in partnership with Arts and Venues Denver

Location: Denver, CO, United States

Completion date: 2010

Artwork budget: $250,000

Project Team

Artist

Catherine Widgery

Widgery Studio

Architect

Brian Klipp

Klipp Architects

Industry Resource

Juno Works

Industry Resource

Peter Kaufman

Peters Studio

Overview

The Jury Assembly room in the Denver Justice Center accommodates several hundred prospective jurors as they assemble to wait for instructions and selection. The client wanted an artwork that would provide interest and beauty to alleviate the experience of waiting. Created in 2010 Cloudbreak is 14’ high, 41’ wide and 2’ deep made from a digitally printed image behind 12,500 glass tubes of varying diameters and lengths that create a ‘landscape’ of 3D form. Light passes through the fritted exterior wall through the image and is ‘caught’ by the tubes like a kaleidescope.

Goals

The east wall of the Jury Assembly room is a colored glass image of light bursting from behind dramatic storm clouds seen through a layer of over 12,500 glass tubes that 'push' like a cloud through the metal frame of the wall in low relief. Each tube catches the bits of color of the pixilated image and causes them to swirl like a kaleidoscope animating the whole as the viewer moves. Lit by the sun in the morning, Cloudbreak changes throughout the day. At night the image is visible in the courtyard outside through the exterior glass as it glows from the interior lighting. It is as if a cloud has been caught inside the building.
In Cloudbreak, light is a metaphor for insight and clarity in justice. As potential jurists sit and wait for their selection, the sun from the outside glows from behind the clouds as if from a higher plane of awareness. The shifting color and light as it plays over and through the glass is a meditation on transcendent beauty and it calls on each individual to reach for his or her higher self while taking on the serious responsibility as a juror.

Process

When I was first selected as a finalist for this project, the wall had been designed to be built from sheetrock, but I contacted the lead architect Brian Klipp and asked what was behind the sheetrock and found it was a fritted glass exterior skin. I then got his permission to replace the sheetrock with my artwork so that sunlight could penetrate the design and the art would be visible at night. Brian Klipp’s openness to modifying his design was a crucial part of the artwork’s success.

Additional Information

I have received letters from the public that speak to how moved they were to be sitting in front of this artwork as the sun shifted and the wall glowed.