We recently had the unique opportunity of working with NYC-based artist, Lisa Solberg, on a large-scale sculpture project for a residential community in Aurora, Colorado. Lisa Solberg, born in Chicago and alumni of Colorado’s own CU Boulder, is recognized for her multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional art. In her work, Solberg unravels the Nature of Existence. Her artistic voice is both mystical and romantic, natural and undeniably human. This installation is Solberg’s largest yet.
The installation consists of 3 large-scale totems made from concrete and stainless steel, ranging from 7 feet to 11 feet tall. Solberg sought to develop her own language with the totems and created these original symbols arising out of a deep exploration and research into metaphysics and quantum physics. Through this project, she wanted to create an experience that would touch people beyond the senses; she wanted them to feel. The sculptures were to be earth-like and natural, but strong, grounded and built to outlive us all.
Solberg went to multidisciplinary design/build firm, TwoSeven located in Brooklyn, to fabricate these structures for The Aurora Highlands’ new public art space, the residential community’s two-mile, 100-acre Hogan Park at Highlands Creek. Hogan Park at Highlands Creek was originally built as a flood plain to mitigate rain water buildup. Director of On-Site Development and Principal, Carla Ferreira, decided to view the space in and around the basin as an opportunity to create a beautiful public park for the community with walking trails, playgrounds and works of art from artists around the world.
We were brought in by Solberg and TwoSeven to do the concrete castings for the totems. TwoSeven, not having experience working with concrete on this scale, built the armatures for the totems and handed them off to us to do the concrete work.
In addition to helping design the armature and conceptualizing the mold, we developed a special earth-toned concrete color mix to match Solberg's vision, hardly recognizable as concrete to the untrained eye. We had to develop a custom concrete mix because of the height, size and fact that they were going to be placed outdoors. The custom mix had to be very dense in order to ensure that the 11 foot structures wouldn’t fall over in the wind in the middle of the rolling Colorado hills.
In order to get the job done in one pour, we had to have multiple large-scale mixers running simultaneously to mix the 800 lbs of concrete needed. Additionally, this being the biggest single pour of concrete we've ever done, we would normally want to have it done in layers or parts, but this design called for the concrete to be poured in one single piece. The presence of lines in the structures would have compromised the design as it was intended and we were determined to get it right. We also had to have an immense amount of concrete on hand to be able to pour everything in one go in our 5000 sq. ft studio; if this piece was 2 inches bigger it literally might not have made it out the door.
Lisa Solberg’s custom concrete totems now stand tall in the gentle landscape’s hills amongst the other original art available for public viewing in the residential community’s Hogan Park at Highlands Creek, where the community is welcome to think, gaze, and feel at their leisure.
We welcome these design challenges and love working with artists with bold visions such as Lisa Solberg’s. We really pushed the boundaries, not just of what the concrete medium can do, but also what our shop is capable of.