222 Untitled

garden of light

the river project

heaven and hell




In the early summer of 2008 a dear friend of mine and fellow artist, Evan Blackwell, mentioned that there was a call for temporary public art installations to be exhibited in store front windows along Broadway in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle. The buildings were slated to be torn down to make way for a long awaited Light Rail station. In an innovative effort to deter crime, maintian pedestrian traffic, and provide a raw space for artists to exhibit in, Sound Transit decided to open up these buildings as ground zero for some of Seattle's finest emerging talent. If I do say so myself.

I chose to use my time in the space like a residency, getting let in by the ever gracious overnight security staff three or four nights a week over the course of a month or so. the plan was simply to experiment with the materials I had gathered and just see what grew.

"Gathered" is a bit of an understatement. Two weeks prior to beginning the install, I was bequeathed thousands of feet of fiber optic cable and six high powered fiber optic light drivers from another dear friend and fellow artist, Warren Langley. Needless to say, this amounted to a huge windfall that perfectly augmented the computer controlled LED lights and coffee filters that I had been working with.

I had vague ideas about what shape the piece was going to take, but I figured that the best way to get something done was to do it in front of people. It sort of forces an immediate accountability. My only regret is that I didn't take more pictures along the way.

Throughout the process I worked closely with Clay Roach, brainiac extraordinaire and one of my favorite people in the whole world. He was my co-conspirator in all aspects of this project, but most notably he designed the back end of the customized electronics that drove the LED lights in the piece. It is an exhausting pleasure to be around his tireless effort and enthusiasm.

Aside from the process of this piece coming into being, I thought I would include the proposal letter that I sent to Sound Transit in the first place.


To Whom it may Concern,

I would like to install a light-based installation as a part of Sound Transit's STart Program. The piece is site specific and the dimensions are variable. I tend to call it, simply, a garden of light. The materials used are hand blown glass, sewn coffee filters, fiber optics, and LED lights driven by computer and custom electronics.

In this installation, I aim for the light to pulse, breathe, and respond to pedestrian traffic, reflecting the nature of the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the flow of people therein. Given the nature of this work, the piece will have the greatest impact at night, when light disturbance from other sources is minimized.

Additionally, I have been fortunate to have the support and seemingly inexhaustible interest of my current technical designer, Clay Roach. A graduate of the University of Texas in Computer Science, Clay has been working with me to develop a user interface that allows me to compose rhythms and translate sounds and vibrations into light. The Garden of Light will be the culmination of the last several months of this new work in sculpture and light composition.

I have been working with incandescent light for fifteen years, designing lamps and displays to alter a variety of environments. Over the last several years I have moved into working with projected light, embedded LEDs and fiber optic cable as a means of creating volumes of light that respond to and reflect the environment and audience that witnesses them.

I have installed similar light based, interactive installations at the (now defunct and greatly missed) Consolidated Works Gallery, Capitol Hill Arts Center, Art Patch Gallery, at the Pilchuck Glass School (both in the gallery and outside). Last year I volunteered with the Seattle Art Museum's teen and family outreach programs as the lighting designer for Art Attack, a monthly art event held at SAM. Regardless of the size and shape of the exhibition space that is made available for this project, I feel confident that I can install the piece within a limited time frame. Of course, I will need access to electricity.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my proposal. If you have any questions about this application please don't hesitate to contact me.


Monika Proffitt