Public Art Projects / Vail, Colorado



Material: Ice with computerized LED's  /  Location: Vail, Colorado  /  A collaboration with Scott Rella

Completed: 2009

Images Courtesy of Peter Fredin



Roughly 300 million years ago, the Ancestral Rocky Mountains towered over what is now Colorado. At the western base of this ancient chain of granite peaks was an inland sea. Over time, the Ancestral Rocky Mountains completely eroded, leaving Colorado a flat place. Shallow seas alternately invaded and retreated in the tens of millions of years that followed. The current Rocky Mountains began to rise about 70 million years ago. This new mountain-building process pushed areas that were once on the ocean floor high above today's sea level.

Centuries ago, scholars puzzled over how seashells could wind up on the tops of mountains. Fossil seashells are now recognized as the remains of ancient sea floors raised to high altitudes by mountain building.

(In Minturn, Colorado there is what is called the Minturn Formation. The Minturn Formation preserves evidence of the ancient seaway, including fossil fish, mollusks, echinoderms (invertebrates related to modern starfish and sea urchins),brachiopods (invertebrates with a superficial resemblance to bivalves), and corals.)



With this in mind, I wished to try and bring a truth of the ancient past to the present. There are occurrences of discovery that we find on our trails that reflect the past. Sometimes there are these weird unusual vestiges of the past that we find, called fossils. These fossilized relics seem so much out of place, though; they really are providing a link, a connection to a time long ago, which was a reality that did exist.

And for me to recreate what might otherwise seem out of context, a seashell in the middle of winter, in the mountains, is actually in context with a connection to what was once a reality. (Though the scale is a little off)

Along those lines I wanted to create aj path that would also connect. So I Chose the 'Golden Mean Spiral’, delivered by using the ‘Golden Ratio’.. In aII aspects of nature, we find patterns, designs and structures from the most minuscule particles, to expressions of life discernible by human eyes, to the contour of the universe. These inevitably follow geometrical archetypes, which reveal to us the nature of each form and its inherent harmonic balance. They are ado symbolic of the underlying metaphysical principle of the Inseparable relationship of the part to the whole; it is the Divine Proportion, or Golden Ratio.

The "Golden Mean Spiral" is the path by which blocks of ice are laid down, templated until the crux is revealing the beautifully carved mollusk shell that is emerging out the large block of ice. With computerized LED's placed underneath the ice, the color of each of the blocks of the wall and shell are illuminated with subtle changes in value of