Client: The State of California, Turner Construction, and the California Natural Resources Agency
Location: Sacramento, CA, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $235,000
Dyson & Womack
Carved by hand from Yellow Cedar salvaged from the Tongas national forest in Alaska, the 26’ ft high and 14’ wide sculpture suspends above the entrance to the new headquarters for the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA). Inspired by changing geological and biological forms and systems in natural environments, John Grade’s artwork “Coalition” references a giant sequoia burned out from within after a wildfire. As visitors enter the building, they pass under the artwork exposing vantages into the hollow interior shaped by the element of fire and perforated by light.
The artwork is part of a world-class collection of public art commissioned for the new Natural Resources Agency headquarters in Sacramento, a marvel of sustainable design with net-zero water efficiency and zero net energy. The public art program is thematically centered on the preservation of California’s natural resources, the profound effects of climate change, and the potential for impact on a global stage. The public art collection at CNRA was designed and implemented by Dyson & Womack as part of their larger Public Art CA project, a model of best practices for the State’s continued investment in public art.
Public Art CA, a program of Dyson & Womack, seeks to inspire world-class public artworks that engage diverse voices, challenge perspectives, and improve our civic space through public art. Overall the goals of the program are to provide immediate financial support to artists creating work in the public realm that responds to natural and cultural resources, public well-being, and environmental sustainability.
In conjunction with two new build projects in Sacramento, the new Natural Resources Agency Headquarters and the Clifford L. Allenby Building, Dyson & Womack implemented a
permanent public art program that sets the standard for the future commissioning of public artworks by engaging diverse voices, enriching public space, and responding to the built environment.
Dyson & Womack develop public art programs with equity, sustainability, and accessibility in mind. These core values are based on our belief that art should be innovative and progressive when it comes to addressing the fundamental concerns of our time. Public Art has the unique ability to ask questions and pose answers while engaging and welcoming the audiences of today.
Dyson & Womack were selected by the State of California to lead the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) public art program from the development of the Art Plan to its final implementation. The project was a multi-year collaboration under the direct supervision of Dyson & Womack who developed, curated, and project managed the program and each individual artwork acting as the liaison between the artists, the design-build team (AC Martin and Turner Construction), and the project owner (the State of California).
The commissioning process included a requirement for a Statement of Sustainability and corresponding evaluation criteria. Outlined in the public art action plan, we asked artists to consider sustainability within the lifespan of the artwork, its maintenance, and long-term care. Commissioned through an intensive selection process, the selected artists share a common thread of excellence across their diverse practices. Their artworks reflect ingenuity in craftsmanship, advancements in technology, and care for how public art can improve our environment and speak to our communities.
The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) public art program, designed and implemented by Dyson & Womack, includes four permanent public artworks by commissioned artists John Grade, Rachel Sussman, Ishi Glinsky, and Michael van Straaten. The program also includes the State of California’s first-ever digital media collection, a selection of 13 digital artworks displayed on a 30”x20” ft. screen in the building's main lobby.