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How to Sculpt with STEAM: Public Art Work in Pensacola Bridges Disciplines & Wins Awards

“There’s a lot of art in science and a lot of science in art.” That’s according to Dr. Wade Jeffrey, director of UWF’s Reubin O’D. Askew Institute of Multidisciplinary Studies at the University of West Florida.  And to that end, the University is now home of Constellations, a public art work sculpture theatre-in-the-round of stainless-steel and kinetic LED and the winner of the 2020 CODAawards Education category.  Constellations is a dynamic and immersive artwork animated by flowing patterns and algorithmic formations of light and shadow.  And ultimately, it is a collaboration of art, science, and education.

Public Art Work

Constellations! A Public Art Work

CODAworx partners annually with Interior Design magazine to choose 100 works for the international CODAawards: Collaboration of Design + Art. The awards recognize collaborations that result in outstanding projects which successfully integrate commissioned art into interior, architectural, or public spaces. “The CODAawards recognize the importance of collaboration, and honor the design and art professionals whose collective imaginations create the public and private spaces that inspire us,” said Toni Sikes, CEO of CODAworx. In its eighth year, the CODAawards received 465 entries from 25 different countries around the globe, representing over $89 million USD in commissions. Jurors from the design, architecture and art worlds judged this year’s submissions and chose their Top 100 selections.  The winners were exhibited online in early summer 2020, where the public was invited to vote for their favorites in each of the eleven design categories.  Constellations was in the Top 100, and chosen during the public voting as the favorite in the Education category.

The University of West Florida’s Institute of Multidisciplinary Studies announced a call to artists in the summer of 2018 for the production of public art with a STEAM emphasis that would be installed on UWF’s Pensacola campus. The sculptures were to highlight the potential for collaboration across disciplines, particularly in the arts and sciences.  Artists Jason Kelly Johnson & Nataly Gattegno, the founders and forces behind FUTUREFORMS, an award-winning art and design studio based in the San Francisco Bay Area, were one of two design teams that won the commission.

Inspired by early studies and translations of animal locomotion using chronophotography and planetary motion simulations, Constellations uses geometry, light, and shadow to create a meditative internal space that at night becomes a playful illuminated sculpture displaying constellations of motion.  The structure forms a 30’ x 25’ x 16’ place to gather, collect and experience. Constellations is made up of a series of galvanized steel structural columns, stainless steel elliptical beams and lattices. Suspended from the lattices are a series of stainless-steel trays that hold Phillips Color Kinetic LEDs, controlled by a Pharos LED controller. 

Inside Constellations!

Constellations was installed between the Center for Fine and Performing Arts and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering.  In this setting, the shape of the design brings together people from otherwise siloed disciplines to observe patterns of data, discuss, and merge through art and technology. Constellations creates a viewing space that acts like a portal into an invisible world of dynamic visual poetry inspired by ideas of science, art and technology.  The sculpture itself merges art and science, technology and experience, data and art fulfilling the University’s charge to inspire collaboration across disciplines. 

Be sure to keep it locked with The Culture Curators for more public art work, more happenings, installations and outstanding exhibits from the art world coming soon! 

Artist Team: Brian McKinney, Carlos Sabogal, Natalie Abbott; Assistants: Cristina Bejarano Cobo, Chris Leo, Valerie Tse, Joel Frank, Emily Saunders. Structural Engineer: Endrestudio (Paul Endres, Dave Campbell) Fabrication Team: Futureforms (San Francisco, CA), N.J. McCutchen, Inc. (Stockton, CA), Jose Zelaya (Certified Welder) Brothers Welding, Seaport Stainless (Richmond, CA) Advanced Electropolishing (Milpitas, CA), Craftsman Concrete (Pensacola, FL), Southwest Cranes and Rigging (Pensacola, FL), Rudd and Son Welding (Pensacola, FL), Bill Smith Electric, Inc. (Pensacola, FL), Color Kinetics LED (Signify).

Other Awards & Recognition 2020 Architizer A+Awards Finalist; Architizer Featured Project.

Public Art Work


Written by Pamela Zeljak

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