Sunsets Over New Mexico

Submitted by Mettje Swift

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Client: Holloman AFB SIOTS

Location: Alamogordo, NM, United States

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $75,000

Project Team

Artist

Mettje K Swift

Banner Art Studio

Industry Resource

Andy Peirce

AMPeirce

Interior Designer

Amy Thomas

SIOTS

Industry Resource

Rex Langston

SIOTS

Overview

Commissioned for the Holloman Air Force Base new community health clinic, the project was funded by the State ½ % for Art set aside for all large public buildings in New Mexico. The imagery was inspired by the vibrant colors of New Mexican sunsets. The flow of colors and gentle movement of the continuum of 28 panels down 80 feet of a long corridor adds a feeling of vibrancy and animates the space. The fabric is light translucent nylon swathed on stainless steel tubing, welded armature. The angles and balance are created by small cable bridled from 3 attachment points.

Goals

The goal was to animate the space. Holloman Air Force Base primarily wanted to add color. The color and motion of the pieces as they move within the natural air currents of the building create an interesting finish to the simple lines of the building. The upper area of the two-story corridor has ample natural lighting. The Air Force Base was intrigued with the nature of the nylon fabric whose translucent colors change with the changes in natural lighting from the ample windows in the skylights. From morning to evening and into the night when even moonlight can change the colors, a unique atmosphere is created by the fabric shapes.

The installation was meant to tie the building together, to add interest to various waiting areas on the second floor and several “bridges” that cross over the open spaces next to the two-story corridor. The colors were incorporated to accent some of the colors of the wall hung art work, most of which referenced the unique beauty of southern New Mexico.

Process

SIOTS (Strategic Initial Outfitting Transition Solutions) contracts with the military for the interior design of new buildings in accordance with federal government and commercial guidelines incorporating art, sculpture, wall treatments, furniture and medical equipment. Work with an initial project manager began in the spring of 2016.

The design process began with sketches and then a model to scale of all 28 panels of the proposed suspended installation. Once accepted, we began fabrication. On this project, I worked with a local company, AMPeirce, whose owner and assistant bent and welded the pieces per specifications.

The fabric tapestry was hot cut in translucent nylon banner cloth and sewn together along a narrow border between the pieces. It has the effect of stained glass. The tapestry was then hand stitched to the armature, small cable was attached from 3 points (bridled) on each armature and made ready to be balanced and angled during installation.

The on-site installation included Andy Peirce, his assistant, myself and 2 SIOTS project managers. The installation took three, 12 hour days, and a 40 ft lift to reach the ceiling grid to which the panels attached. The installation was completed in early June, 2017.

Additional Information

This is the most number of people with whom I have co-ordinated to reach agreement, to please, in my career that spans many decades of working with institutions, both public and private. During the design process, there were five upper level military personnel whom I never met, but which included a change of command during the process; and their board of directors, two SIOTS managers, Amy Thomas, interior designer, and retired General Rex Langston, made the installation go as smoothly as possible and were thoughtful of our needs as an installation crew, during the long work days.