AF:Tell us the story behind this project. NG: This project started with an intention to create more areas to relax and reflect along the new Broadway pedestrian and bicycle pathway. We also wanted to create art and benches that can be seen and enjoyed by drivers passing by.
We spent many hours researching and talking to the community through panels and public meetings. I always enjoy the open dialog created before a public art project. I love visiting friends and residents around the city (and country) to come up with a meaningful theme that will last and be relevant for years and years.
AF:Why is this project important to you? How has it influenced the trajectory of your work? NG: I am passionate about creating public spaces that incorporate both nature and art. For example, we will be depicting many of the native plants at one of our sites, including five 6’- 8’ totems featuring edible plants of the desert. In addition, we have fabricated a sundial in the studio of Cindee Lundin (with artist, Ralph Prata) that is both colorful and educational, showing the movement of the sun, noted by the shadows it casts. This piece also has rock benches with glow stones near the sundial (or “shadow caster”) to create interest and awareness of our natural surroundings.
This has influenced my work both aesthetically and developmentally as I have loved watching the designs we create come to life in the form of hand-carved concrete with concrete stains.
AF: You’re an accomplished public artist with most of your work residing outside of Tucson. How does it feel to have this piece installed in your home city? NG: It feels great to have a large-scale public art piece in Tucson. I think this is happening at the right time for me and my great team. As an artist, I have had the chance to see my vision come to life during both the design and production phases.AF: What do you like most about the Tucson community? NG: The amount of very talented artists who live here. I also appreciate the Tucson community’s attitude toward the arts. It is a very supportive city for the arts. I would love to leave a legacy of high quality and meaningful art that is embraced and understood and enjoyed. I hope to create public art with a timeless quality, like the cave painting, that endures and works well through many different time periods.AF:How do you get inspired? NG: By talking to people during the design phase. They help me keep an open perspective on the many potential directions a project could take. I also get inspired when I sit down to work; this is where it all comes together. I also use my time in nature to relax and let the concepts come to me. Nature and the earth inspire me very much as I love that open relaxed feeling one has before the design is complete. I like to take a concept or an idea and develop it further with color, line, texture, contrast and all the tools artists have available to them. Lately, I enjoy a more intense focus of semi-abstraction and ‘keeping it simple’.
AF: What role does public art play in the community? NG: Public art enhances, beautifies and inspires. It makes one think deeply and ponder ideas and concepts. Public art also enlivens public space and the community itself. Public art belongs to everyone. It is art created to communicate with the public, and long after the art is installed, this dialog continues and is ever changing and growing over time.More Info: Niki Glen Studios’ newest public art project features hand-carved colored concrete sculptures that celebrate the beauty of nature and inspire the appreciation of our surroundings. These will be placed in vibrant, drought-tolerant landscaping adjacent to new bicycle and pedestrian paths along a two-mile stretch of roadway.
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