Client: Santa Cruz County Public Library
Location: Felton, CA, United States
Completion date: 2020
Teall Messer Architect
Noll & Tam Architects
The artist was awarded the commission to design and create an original work of art for the Santa Cruz County Public Library in Felton, CA. It is a new 9,000 square foot library. The artist proposed a massive installation of hand-blown glass butterflies. This installation is comprised of 200 hand-blown glass butterfly sculptures that are installed in the main body of the library and stretch over approximately 80 linear feet. The composition starts at the circulation desk in the center of the library featuring wall-mounted sculptures that then come away from the wall and are suspended into the children’s area of the library leading out to the main window looking out on to the courtyard of the library.
The library is one of the 1st of its kind in California to focus on environmental literacy and stewardship. The library site and the adjacent park, the Nature Discovery Park, is a riparian area that was reclaimed and is being restored back to its natural state by removing non-native plant species and repopulating it with landscaping featuring native plants. With the unique mission of the library, the artist wanted to bring the outside in. She proposed a swarm of butterflies because of the important role that pollinators play in habitat restoration. It showcases butterflies as beneficial pollinators while beautifying and activating the space. It provides for an educational opportunity that ties in with the unique mission of the library. Additionally, butterflies are an iconic symbol to the Santa Cruz County as the community celebrates the annual migration of monarch butterflies through the area. Lastly, the artwork serves as a wayfinder, drawing patrons into the beautiful courtyard space and out towards the adjacent Discovery Park for further exploration and educational opportunities focusing on environmental literacy.
The artist worked with the architect, interior designers, the Santa Cruz County Library stakeholders, Santa Cruz County project management, and the Felton Library Friends through design iterations from the original proposal to ensure that the artwork integrated well with the built environment and the adjustments that needed to be made to the original plans. The composition flow and coloration were thoughtfully planned to create movement through the space. Each glass butterfly in the compilation was hand-blown and hot sculpted by the artist. Color was applied by hand and carefully configured to transition from a gradient of more traditional monarch coloration to more whimsical interpretation of other native butterflies.