Client: Urban Renaissance Group / Regional Arts and Culture Council
Location: Portland, OR, United States
Completion date: 2016
Artwork budget: $210,000
Public Art Manager
Regional Arts and Culture Council
This large exterior work was created to activate a full block of the 6th Avenue bus mall in downtown Portland, Oregon. There is a total of 36 etched and illuminated mirror boxes integrated permanently within the structure of the building. The reverse etched imagery within the artworks begins with a view of the building from above; as the viewer walks down the street the boxes reflect a progressively distant perspective of their location, ending with an image of our galaxy from afar. The piece, titled after a line in Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, engages the concepts of time and space with the hope of providing grounding context for modern city dwellers who so often are looking down into increasingly micro universes. This installation instead attempts to draw the viewer not only to look up and engage with the piece itself, but to reflect on the human experience and our place within it all. Whether encouraging the individuals to later stare at the stars, or to stare deeply into each box where the images are reflected infinitely, this piece hopes to slow the lives of passersby and perhaps remind them of our place in time and timelessness.
This piece was informed by the Regional Arts and Culture Council’s desire to reference the site’s visual history. The outdoor street-level windows once looked down into a vast underground print shop, so the committee desired the pedestrian experience of looking into an alternate world and a feeling of visual vastness. We achieved this through large back-lit infinity mirror boxes that take the viewer on a journey upwards from their precise geographic location out to the edges of our galaxy.