Reflect and Resound

Submitted by Virginia Fleck

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Client: City of Austin / Salvation Army

Location: Austin, TX, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $68,000

Project Team

Artist

Virginia Fleck

Virginia Fleck Studio

Architect

Heather McKinney

McKinney York Architects

Landscape Architect

Catherine O'Connor

CO'DESIGN Landscape Architecture

Public Art Agent

Austin Art in Public Places

AIPP

Industry Resource

Crippen Sheet Metal

Crippen Sheet Metal

Industry Resource

Austin Paint Works

Austin Paint Works

Overview

Reflect and Resound are a pair of sensory play-house sculptures located at the Women and Children’s Shelter in Austin, TX. These contemporary play-houses are integrated into the daycare facility’s pre-school playground. Each play-house resembles a large, colorful jewel. Reflect is a walk-in kaleidoscope and Resound is a sound-hood connected to three talk-tube sculptures via underground tubes. The play-houses are welded aluminum, coated with auto paint. The three talk-tube flowers are welded steel, coated with auto paint. Reflect is 8'Hx7'W, Resound is 5'Hx5'W.The talk-tube flowers are (2) @ 40″H and 120″H.

Goals

I met with my collaborators and stakeholders at regular intervals throughout the year-long design process. Keeping in mind that this facility is a crisis shelter, it was very important that my intentions were aligned with those of the Architect, Landscape Architect and Stakeholders. Throughout this process I held the belief that integration and alignment at the design level would have a tangible benefit for the employees and future residents of the shelter. My goal was to embrace the opportunities that the architecture and sensory garden provided.

Process

The faceted structures of Reflect and Resound are a nod to the notable faceted roof on the daycare building. The color palette of the play structures was inspired by the native plants of the sensory garden. Reflect and Resound were intentionally designed to provide a whimsical connection to the birds, butterflies, and insects that are nourished by the sensory garden. Reflect is a walk-in kaleidoscope that engages each child to discover their own reflection as a mandala within the garden. Resound invites children to make and listen for sounds from nearby child height jewel-flowers or listen for birdsong from the 10ft. jewel-flower that reaches up into the canopy of a nearby oak tree.

Additional Information

My design process started with the meditative activity of paper-folding. I was most drawn to gem shapes. In part, the shelter's mission is to provide a safe place where residents can value themselves and their families. Gems have been valued and cherished throughout time and across cultures. I envisioned gem-shaped play-houses that children could become part of. In public art, I strive to elevate the ordinary and to see the extraordinary in what is considered common. In Reflect and Resound, I am making a place for children to create an extraordinary experience with their bodies through ordinary movements and sounds.