Glass River - CODAworx

Client: Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corporation

Location: Madison, WI, United States

Completion date: 2022

Artwork budget: $20,000

Project Team


Barbara Westfall

Barbara Westfall Art Glass Design


Mary Wright

WI Housing Preservation Corporation


Brian Anderson

Anderson Custom

Hardware Consultant

Poppy Massalum

Hang Your Glass


Rivers are bodies of water that meander and flow in our lives. Underground aquifers bubble up from the ground we walk on, through springs that flows into streams, which in turn create rivers, that make their way into lakes, and the oceans of the world. Rivers are special places where people, animals, and insects frequent, and make their homes. Water is a source of life, essential to our existence. Our neighboring planets are void of it, which is why Planet Earth is so unique.

This fused glass river is built in 10 sections and is attached to the wall of a boardroom, that overlooks a lake. This particular glass river is patterned after the Yahara, a tributary of Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. The art was commissioned by a housing development company that designs and builds low income residential housing communities throughout Wisconsin. The river is a metaphor for a company who builds sustainable housing projects throughout the state, which connect individuals to their community, placed artfully into towns and cities. This company believes in supplying the most elemental need of people, a dignified home, and with it clean water, and beautiful locations, some including rivers.

Rivers Flow Through Our Lives, is intended to inspire and ponder the places we cherish and live


The goal for this commission was to create a memorable view of a local river. The Yahara River feeds into a chain of 5 lakes in the greater Madison area, which serves as a source of water, food, recreation, habitat for animals, birds and insects, and inspiration for all that are fortunate to live in this Great Lakes region.


Working with the president of the company and their design team, the project was conceptualized and proposed by the artist through a series of drawings. The drawings were overlaid onto the architects electronic files. Using GoogleMaps arial view tools, the design features the exact section of the Yahara River that flows into Lake Mendota, which is viewed directly outside of the boardroom windows. After several renditions were presented, the team decided on a diagonal wall placement. The river was made using blue and green transparent, opaque and iridescent glass. All of the colors were hand-cut, layered and fired in a kiln to 1490F. Designed and delivered within 4 months. Barbara Westfall only uses glass fabricated in the United States, which is why projects such as this one are able to be built quickly, as local glass companies are not experiencing any supply chain issues.