In Plain Site | Visual Arts

New Public Art at the U of U

The Utah Arts Council, in cooperation with University of Utah Health Sciences Education, VCBO Architects and the Division of Facilities Construction and Management, announces the completion of three public art works for the new Health Sciences Education Building on the University of Utah campus. The art selection committee, representing these agencies, the community and the architect, awarded these commissions in late 2003 after a nation wide search for artwork proposals that would be site-specific to the Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB).One is by Utahn Doug Soelberg of Provo. He created a 100 ft. stained glass work for the West side of the bridge connecting the new facility to the medical library. Owner and designer of Architectural Art Glass (Orem), Soelberg taught glass design through the BYU Art and Design Department through the 80’s and has exhibited work in Utah, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Japan. “Glass has an inherent architectural quality that has the ability to transform light and enhance it with a lively character,” Soelberg says of his work.

The colors of his work for the HSEB are based on the the four humours – blood, choler, phlegm and melancholy – proposed by ancient doctor Galen (400 BC) as being necessary for the maintenance of good health. Galen’s doctrines regarding these four humours survived even into the 17th century as a basis for medical practice. Soelberg created his work with the intent to complement the architecture by adding human imperfection to the building design. His goal was to draw people into the facility and to inspire faculty and students.

The other two new public art works are by out of state artists, Ray King and Nancy Braver. King, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, created a 43-foot sculpture, titled Utah Cascade, for the main lobby of the new building. The sculpture is suspended by stainless steel cable in the five story atrium lobby and consists of 2400 pieces of 2-inch-thick dichroic glass. The sculpture creates a waterfall effect of color and light reflecting and transmitting gold and blue light throughout the lobby.

The third public artwork, by Nancy Braver, of Los Angeles, California, is a four-part sculpture of slumped glass and LED lights installed on four of the facility’s five floors. Each sculpture is suspended at the end of a corridor over small lounge areas. Braver choreographed a program that changes the LED lights gradually in each part of the sculpture, with moments where all four synchronize. The sculptures can be experienced in each lounge or as a whole viewed from outside the building.

For more information about the Utah Arts Council’s Public Art Program please contact Jim Glenn at (801) 533-3585 or or visit their website


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