Woven Light

Submitted by Catherine Widgery

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Client: Denver Arts and Venues

Location: Denver, CO, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $340,000

Project Team

Landscape Architect

Scott Jordan

Civitas Landscape Architecture

Industry Resource

Jan Peters

Peters Studio

Industry Resource

John Grant

Public Art Services

Industry Resource

Kevin Manning

Juno Works

Artist

Catherine Widgery

Overview

The goal was to create a gathering place that provides both shelter and a rich experience as it interacts with the changing light, sky and visitors walking through. The structure is 30’ in diameter with two off set spirals that interpenetrate to create complex and interesting space. The walls are veil through which the surroundings are seen as if through a new lens. We are aware of the wind and changing light in a way we weren’t before.

Goals

This area of Stapleton is a development on the site of the old airport. It has been created in just a few years as open swaths of flat land are converted into instant ‘neighborhoods’ with rows of houses. While this is wonderful as it offers young families the possibility of owning their own homes, there isn’t the sense of an area that has gone through the gradual process of an evolving neighborhood so it feels a bit like Disneyland, not entirely ‘real’. Gone are porches and verandas where people can connect with their neighbors, so to create a gathering place in this context felt very important to counter the isolation of suburban living, a population is hidden behind closed windows and garage doors. This is a genuine challenge I wanted the art to address. Woven Light has been astoundingly successful as a gathering place: children come to play there throughout the day and into the evening and their parents join them. During the day we witnessed people coming and sitting as they chatted with a friend or rested on their walk with their dog.

Process

Working with the landscape architecture firm Civitas in Denver, our team studied their landscape design of the mile long park through this new residential area to determine where a gathering place and shelter structure would be best suited. We wanted to take advantage of the direct angles of light and the view of the distant mountains behind which the sun sets each evening. The path systems were modified to seamlessly draw pedestrians onto the paths that enter and emerge from the artwork. The accoya wood with small dichroic glass accents felt appropriate for the surrounding environment as it recalls the snow fences in evidence everywhere in this flat prairie landscape.

Additional Information

As we spent several days and evenings at the site photographing and videotaping, there were moments when I was very moved to see how this had worked. This is why I make art: to bring beauty and change the lives of those who interact with it.