To See Yourself in Nature - CODAworx

To See Yourself in Nature

Client: City of Huntington Beach, California

Location: Huntington Beach, CA, United States

Completion date: 2023

Artwork budget: $335,000

Project Team


The Art Studio

at RDG Planning & Design, Inc.


The City of

Huntington Beach

Metal Fabrication & Installation

UAP Production LLC

Lighting & Electrical

Snowden Electric Company, Inc.

Landscape / Sitework

Evolution Landscaping


“To See Yourself in Nature” made of etched brass and hand finished stainless steel is an invitation to explore and reflect upon the natural wonders of a cherished 300-acre Huntington Beach Central Park and its anchor, the Huntington Beach Central Library. Inspired by “… art as mirror held up to nature… to see yourself in nature…” the installation creates a place for heightened awareness and contemplation of ever-changing colors, textures and patterns found in nature. Sited along a well-traveled pathway, the installation responds to the architectural character of the library designed by renowned architect Dion Neutra and Associates. Both the library and this installation share a common source of inspiration with the horizontal plane of reflection of water found throughout the building and the park.


One of the first large scale public art commissions located in Huntington Beach Central Park, the artist team working with the public art committee alongside city and project stakeholders desired a site-specific artwork celebrating the park and the library as cherished civic and cultural spaces. A series of townhall meetings with stakeholders about the park coupled with research into the design of the library building informed the artistic design process. Public engagement and feedback of initial concepts informed the siting of the work in the park in careful proximity to the “Secret Garden”, a community volunteer garden of native drought tolerant plantings that has been in existence since 1992.


With the goal of creating site-specific connections between narrative, function, and place, the entire process was informed from initial conceptual design, design development, fabrication, and installation by the relationship of three principles that guide our artistic practice: Story, Structure and Site.

Story. Understanding story leads the design effort where artists engage in site-specific research, artistic fact finding, stakeholder interviews, community interactions, and site visits, to uncover unique aspects of place critical to the conceptual development of a project.

Structure. Public art installations should have an element of usefulness where the public is invited to touch, to sit upon, to walk through or be sheltered by the work. Structure is the park bench or picnic shelter re-imagined through understanding Story.

Site. Specific to the physical and cultural nuances of a given location public art is about finding and creating connections to the cultural landscape, both real and symbolic, historic, and contemporary. Site specifics include views – both to and from the installation, human scale and orientation regarding natural light and illumination considering both daytime and nighttime experiences.

Additional Information

Standing at over 13’ tall the two semi-circular forms are oriented specifically on a north south axis to capture subtle changes throughout the time of day registered as reflected sunlight and color from the surrounding landscape in the opposing concave stainless-steel forms each anchored by a sitting stone. The convex etched brass forms echo patterns found in nature slipping between different and equally valid interpretations of water, butterfly wings, owl feathers and textures of trees and plants – creating threshold space that frames an invitation to explore the natural wonders found in the park beyond.