How do we live by consuming less than we give back to the environment? How do we address this with art?

How can we justify the creation of a large public sculpture to tout the gospel of sustainability, if the process of its creation was not sustainable? Is the creation of a large public sculpture just another expression act of consumption to create material wealth? How can you create and deliver in a sustainable fashion? How do you design the sculpture so that it will be as interdependent with the community with its message, and independent and inert as possible with its maintenance and own ongoing energy needs? How do you express this message in a way the local community will understand and appreciate?

Since the largest energy consumers in any construction project are in the manufacturing of new materials and shipment and transportation to the jobsite, it was immediately apparent that Energy Dance needed to be constructed on site out of recycled material sourced within Farmington and San Juan College. Recycled drilling pipe was chosen because of its abundance, structural integrity, and rich history with the local community, and global energy: a poetic notion of creating new out of old. There is a rich local workforce familiar with working with the drilling pipe, which was employed in the erection of the sculpture to provide a stimulus to the local economy.

There are 51 pairs of pipe raised so that their tops touch each other to form an inverted “V”. The pairs are arranged into two interlocking crescents alluding to the symbol of recycling, fellowship, and dance. The pipes are over 30 feet long and placed at a nearly vertical angle, and connected so that their tops are exposed to soar and frame the magnificent sky of the Four Corners. The arrangement of pipes create a dynamic visual “moiré” patterns as the viewer moves around the sculpture resembling the natural flow of energy and the elemental forces of rain wind fire and water. The visual patterns also allude to the patterns found in the rich native art and traditions in the area. The pipes are made or heavy thick steel that can be left to rust naturally in the dry local climate without compromising their structural integrity. The dark rusted surface is comfortable to the eyes, and appear mostly in silhouette to enhance the “moiré” effect. The sculpture appears to be kinetic without actually moving.

The sculpture is placed on a peninsula surrounded by the retention pond. This location is visible from most of the site, and the college. The sculpture is bold and tall, announcing its presence to the college in a similar way that Shiprock does to the four corners. A walkway circles around the perimeter of the pond and through the sculpture to heighten interaction with the sculpture and awareness of the pond. The sustainable use of water is key to survival in the desert southwest, and the reflection and interaction of the sculpture and the pond stimulates awareness of this.


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