Butterfly Wings and Scales
- Swift Lee Office
- March 21, 2017
- Artwork Type
- Media & Support
- stainless steel on steel
- 15 ft. x 12 ft. x 4 ft.* (5 x 4 x 1 m)
- Public Library
1340 West 106th Street
Los Angeles, CA
The Creative Graffiti Abatement Project was implemented by the Department of Arts and culture from 2013 to 2017 in four neighborhoods in south LA County. Civic artworks at two parks and two libraries in these neighborhoods were intended to increase community pride and ownership of public assets and ultimately lead to the reduction of graffiti vandalism at county properties. The project team made additional investments in community engagement as a crucial element for project success. The project was designed create new cultural assets that would meet the needs of each site and test a new model to ensure that artists were fully supported to meet the demands of the project. The project team also embraced evaluation as a component of the project design.
In addition to permanent art installations and temporary artist-led engagement programs at each site, the project team produced a documentary video chronicling the development of each artwork and an evaluation report of findings and lessons learned from all four project sites
Designers from Swift Lee Office (SLO) conducted several site visits and had conversations with staff and neighborhood residents. On one of their visits, they observed an impromptu jump rope session with local youth in the library’s entry plaza. This led them to ask how the space could be used as a flexible program space. SLO worked with art and public engagement consultant Sara Daleiden to test this idea with the community by hosting a community workshop. At the workshop families were invited to design canopies for the plaza using recycled materials. Many of the designs included natural elements, such as trees, flowers and a turtle pond. Residents also confirmed their desire to use the plaza as a place to sit, read, play and have community events. The artwork reflects a playful and colorful spirit that activates the plaza. Based on microscopic images of butterfly wings, the sculptural canopy is made of translucent panels that provide shade for educational programs and cultural performances. Future plans being developed by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation will incorporate the artwork’s thematic elements and further transform the plaza into a lively community space. In addition, a corresponding mixed media mural on Normandie Boulevard connects passersby to activities happening in the plaza. The artwork is a part of a series of projects funded by a grant from the Los Angeles County Parks and Regional Open Space District that use artsbased solutions to promote the value of civic spaces and deter vandalism at County properties. SLO hopes that by enlivening the plaza, continued activation will instill community stewardship of the Library and its resources.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
To learn more about the artists: http://www.swiftleeoffice.com/
Swift Lee Office was founded in 2000 in Los Angeles. SLO’s founding partners, Nathan Swift and Gloria Lee, met while at Harvard and established their office in an artist complex downtown. SLO was launched as a multidisciplinary design laboratory, combining an architectural studio,
a hands-on prototyping workshop and a gallery for artists. Since then, SLO has transformed into a full service architectural firm with an extensive portfolio of projects built throughout Los Angeles.