River of Leaves - CODAworx

River of Leaves

Client: Texas State University

Location: San Marcos, TX, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $125,000

Project Team


Daniel Goldstein

Daniel Goldstein Studio

Art Consultant

Jennifer Seay

Art+Plus Artisans


While researching for this commission, I came across a photograph of the San Marcos River showing leaves floating across the surface of the water. It was different from all the other images of the San Marcos that I had found. This image inspired a large-scale mobile: a winding river made of floating and gently turning shapes signifying leaves on water. These leaves are several shades of green and tan. They overlap and point in different directions, yet comprise a unified harmony.


The space is long, narrow and high. Most of the lines are at right angles.
There are a number of different activities that happen here- each in a distinct area of the hall. From the entrance and staircase, to the lounge areas and spaces for recreation, the river of leaves creates a sense of continuity and connection that unites these disparate areas.

The ceiling is made of a beautiful warm-toned wood. I felt immediately that a sinuous curve that traveled the length of this space would create a feeling of natural progression and flow.

The armatures, in several shades of blue, represent the waters of the river. The multicolored leaves turn slowly, exactly as the actual leaves do which float on the surface of the real San Marcos River.

Because this space is filled with lots of student activity, I wanted the sculpture to provide a zone of quiet, meditative movement that would act as a counterpoint for contemplation and even reverie. I was recently told that students enjoy lying on their backs in this space and watching the movement of the leaves.


After being shortlisted for this commission I visited the site and met with the architects and school administrators. Their input was invaluable particularly in regard to the ultimate uses of the space.

Additional Information

I am very happy to be able to share this quote from the client: "Daniel Goldstein's "River of Leaves" at Texas State University has helped jump-start our vision of becoming a destination for public art. His installation has been positively received by students, faculty, staff, and administration. Mr. Goldstein's work and services exceeded our expectations! Thank you Daniel." – Timothy Mottet, Dean, Texas State University