Artists Transform Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory into a Sea of All Colors

Artists from Luftwerk studio designed and exhibited their series of light and sculptural installaitons in Chicago's Garfeild Park Conservatory. (Photo Courtesy of Philips Lighting)

Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory is presenting an interplay of light and color in a lovely exhibit called Solarise: a sea of all colors.

Designed by multi-media artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of the Chicago-based Luftwerk studio, the Solarise exhibit is a series of light and sculptural environments emphasizing the Conservatory’s historic architecture and complimenting their beloved plant collection. Solarise explores the contemporary relationship between nature and technology.

Luftwerk artists, Sean Gallero and Petra Bachmaier (Photo Courtesy of Philips Lighting)

With each artwork the visitors get to interact with color, light, and nature in an unconventional way.

Five dynamic light and color installations were designed: The BeaconFlorescenceSeed of Light,  Prismatic and Portal.

The Beacon (Photo Courtesy of John Faier vis Philips Lighting)

The Beacon, features computer-programmed LED lights that run along the interior of the Palm House dome, The Beacon is a permanent installation activated by an anemometer that gauges the course and speed of the wind passing across Chicago. Translating this data to the LED lights affects the vibrancy, speed, and dynamics of the installation. Dependent upon the weather, this site-specific display creates a fluid gesture of light that mimics tall prairie grasses swaying in the breeze.”

Florescence (Photo Courtesy of Peter Tsai)


” Florescence is inspired by the blue and and red spectrums of sunlight that plants utilize to photosynthesize growth. It is a sculptural intervention of red and blue petals, hung canopy-like in an optical pattern. As the light passes through these filters, colorful shadows are cast throughout the entirety of the Show House, creating an immersive experience that heightens the viewer’s awareness of the processes by which nature unfolds.

Seed of Light, top photo (c) Peter Tsai – bottom (Photo Courtesy of John Faier)

Seed of Light is a kinetic chandelier of water and light inspired by the circular geometry of the Flower of Life—the universal symbol of creation. With each illuminated droplet, circular trays catch the water below, magnifying ripple shadows across the floor of the Conservatory’s Horticulture Hall.”

Prismatic  (Photo Courtesy of John Faier)


Prismatic evokes the cross-sectional geometry of desert plant bodies and realizes their forms into a multi-dimensional representation. By day, the sunlight shines through prismatic-shaped acrylic spokes, refracting the white rays of light into the full spectrum of its component colors. As the sun passes overhead, the display of light shifts, creating a continuous movement of light and color throughout the day. In the evening, Prismatic illuminates via intelligent LED lighting and responds to a composition of music, creating a dynamic and playful activation within the Desert House.”

Portal (Photo Courtesy of Philips Lighting)

“Framing the legendary “spring song waterfall,” which crowns the lagoon of the Fern Room, Portal draws the viewer’s gaze to fall directly upon the heart of the conservatory. Floating above the surface of the reflection pool, Portal performs as a frame for—and reflection of—the natural surroundings in which it is situated. With its mutli-faceted use of mirrors, the installation mimics the slick of the reflection pool, while fragmenting and abstracting the figures of flora blooming in the space. ”

Solarise can be experienced in the daylight or at nighttime. During evening hours though, visitors can discover the exhibit in a much more dramatic way and appreciate the full impact of the lighting design. Solar panels power the energy efficient LED lighting that illuminate the sculptures indoors and outdoors.

Solarise: a sea of all colors will be presented at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago until September 22, 2016.

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