Client: U of Iowa College of Public Health
Location: Iowa City, UA, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $220,000
Payette (now an independent architect)
Erica Behrens, Director, NY Office
Franz Mayer of Munich, Inc.
The University of Iowa College of Public Health serves both the Iowa community and the International community. The college wanted the artwork in the public space to be relevant to it's immediate mission. I chose to make portraits of Iowans, to demonstrate the diversity of the population, since Iowa is often thought of as flyover country, meaning predictable, something that it definitely is not.
These portraits are etched in glass and are 3, and in some cases, 4 feet by 10.5 feet. There is a slight sepia tone in them. I see these portraits as warming up a large, somewhat industrial space. The success of that combination has been mentioned many times.
Through discussions with the architects I was able to hone in on how these images could be integrated into the design of the building without being an obviously separate art entity. Then, working with the artists at Franz Mayer of Munich, we developed what we thought would be a physical object that both fit in, but at the same time held a power of it's own.
In discussions with the architects I discovered that the building had a relevant life expectancy of 75-100 years. But one of the reasons for putting the images on glass was the fact that they could last for many hundreds of years. Since then there have been discussions about the kinds of public art processes that will outlast the buildings, and remain in the university's are collection.