Ode to the Great Carolina Wren and Exotic Birds

Submitted by Arthur Stern

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Client: Greenville-Spartanberg Airport

Location: Greer, SC, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $137,500

Project Team

Artist

Arthur Stern

Public Art Agent

Rosylin Weston

Public Art Coordinator for GSP Airport

Overview

"Ode to the Great Carolina Wren" and "Exotic Birds" feature four different 9' wide x 11' tall panels that are installed in pairs over elevators, and are backlit with LED lights. Related by vocabulary but varying in details, the pairs are fabricated in powdered glass frit fused to plate glass during the tempering process with added hand blown and dichroic glass laminated details. The dichroic glass is reflective and changes color depending on your viewing position as you walk through the airport's ticketing lobby.

Goals

The winged designs represent flight and pay homage to the Great Carolina Wren (state bird), and to the Carolina Parakeet (now extinct) as reflected in choice of colors and titles. The textures were designed to suggest a large weaving or tapestry, since Greenville, SC is long known as the "Textile Capital of the World". The area around GSP is known today for its technology, and the choice of a high-tech fabrication technique used for the glass was a nod to the locale. The shapes and colors of the materials in the architecture also informed my design, and made it site specific and personalized for this project.

Process

When I became a finalist for GSP, I created renderings and sample panels for the airport's art committee to review. They liked my concepts and designs, but asked that I redesign one pair originally in blues, because they felt it competed with their blue signage. Taking their suggestion to work in greens, I created new designs for the second pair which were accepted. Once the designs were finalized, a contract was negotiated, and I received the "build-to" sizes. After a local glazing company working for GSP had made measurements, I could finally begin working on full-size drawings in my studio. Fabrication completed, the glaziers became part of my team and under my supervision assisted in removal of the existing glass as well as installation of the art glass.

Additional Information

Hand-drawn oil pastels were created, photographed and digitized. Using the computer, I then revised, added details, and sized the images into 4 unique designs. Each of the 20 panels was a one-gigabyte file that communicated with the Dip-Tech machine to print the images on plate glass with powdered glass frit that is fused together in the tempering process. Back in the studio, we added numerous laminations of color details, including hand-blown glass and dichroic glass. These accents create an ever-changing visual experience.