Syncopation Sea; The Benthic Zone

Submitted by Dixie Friend

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Client: Texas A & M University at Galveston

Location: Galveston, TX, United States

Completion date: 2010

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team

Architect

Jill Harmon

WHR Architects

Other

William Seitz

Artist

Dixie Friend

Overview

The installation consists of three mosaic locations in the Ocean and Coastal Studies Building at Texas A&M Galveston. Syncopation Sea is composed of two tumbled smalti-glass murals. The larger mural, 12'x23', is a colorful look at sea life: a school of fish, ocean currents and underwater plant life. The smaller mural is 10'x10' feet with an image of a mysterious shadow and light reflected off the sandy sea floor. The Benthic Zone is a 15″x43' sculptured relief mosaic recessed into two walls that run the width of the lobby. It depicts microscopic plankton, diatoms and other single-cell life forms.

Goals

The architect and the client were looking for an artwork that would celebrate the objective of the building: to learn about marine life. They wanted a statement piece in the main lobby that would accentuate the architecture while taking into consideration the potential stress to the artwork since the building is in a flood zone on a barrier island. Integration into the overall look and feel of the building was key as they worked to involve me in creating locations for artwork within the main lobby. Mosaic was chosen as the medium for its ease of maintenance, longevity and ability to withstand flooding.

Process

Since the architect and client approached me at the start of the project, I worked with them to design fully integrated spaces specifically for mosaic. Originally only one location was available, yet with further meetings and visits to my studio, the client soon realized the benefits of multiple mosaic locations. Using this opportunity, I explored different scenes in ocean life with the two larger mosaics as well as different materials and scale in The Benthic Zone. Realizing the location and designing the space for The Benthic Zone was a true collaboration between the desires of the client, the design skills of the architect and the vision of my artwork. My collaboration with the architect enabled mindfulness regarding the design of the terrazzo floors in relation to the mosaics. Though architect designed, the terrazzo engages the materials, artwork and function of the main lobby creating a fully integrated and beautiful space.

Additional Information

SYNCOPATION SEA and BENTHIC ZONE , 2010 3 murals, 12" x 23", 10' x 10', 15" x 43', tumbled smalti, cast glass, fused glass and hand formed ceramic Mosaika of Montreal fabricated Syncopation Sea I fabricated Benthic Zone in my Houston studio We completed the installation in May 2010 Architect: WHR, Houston Photo: Hall Puckett