Open Prairie - CODAworx

Open Prairie

Submitted by Benjamin Ball

Client: Johnson County Courthouse, Johnson County (Public Building Commission)

Location: Olathe, KS, United States

Completion date: 2020

Project Team

Artist, Project Manager, Fabrication/Installation

Benjamin Ball

Ball-Nogues Studio

Commissioning Entity Project Manager


Johnson County (Public Building Commission)


The natural environment has historically been a source of inspiration for artists. Landscape painting by American Regionalists was the point of departure for this installation. During the design process, we mapped a composition of colors from an imaginary Kansas prairie onto over 20,000 segments of painted stainless-steel ball-chain; each segment unique in length and position. To accommodate such intricacy, Ball-Nogues Studio worked with a computer-controlled machine of their own design to aid in the meticulous process of cutting the chain into segments and linking them in precise order.

Dimensions: 11’6″ x 19′ x 23′
Materials: stainless steel ball-chain, enamel paint, aluminum plate
This work is part of the Johnson County, Kansas Public Art Collection.


The work reflects the desire to reshape architectural space with minimal use of material, interacting with space and light to create effects that are visually striking and dynamic. In chemistry, a suspension is a heterogeneous fluid or gas with solid particles more or less evenly distributed. While the space of the vestibule is interspersed with metallic chains, one’s comprehension of the work is also constructed from the negative space between the chains: the visitor’s view extends through the chains to the ceiling above and the surroundings. In this way, the courthouse and its landscape become integral aspects of the work.