River Dragon the art work at Western Avenue Station combines the symbolism of the River (both the Mekong River and the Mississippi River) with that of the dragon, a symbol in Asian culture of the life force, signifying good fortune. Dragons are invested with powers of regeneration that permeate the natural world and renew the cosmic order. Through their influence, the seasonal cycles of the natural world are maintained.
Catherine Widgery has created more than 40 site-specific public art projects across the U.S. and Canada in a career that spans over 30 years.
Her particular interest and strength is working with communities and teams to create environmental sculptural experiences that respond to the unique spirit, shape and function of a place. Wind, light, water and computer-controlled lighting programs communicate energy and animate the space within her environmental works.
Widgery has received numerous awards, grants and honors for her works, including CODA awards Best Projects of 2015 for Healthcare and Transportation. She was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 2002. Widgery graduated Cum Laude with Special Distinction in Fine Arts and the Walker Prize with a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, and graduated at the Tyler School of Art in Rome, Temple University. In addition to numerous solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums, her award-winning projects have been featured on the covers of Sculpture, Landscape Architecture, Espace and World Sculpture News magazines.
Leaves of Wind, El Paso, Texas
Sky Cycles, Fremont, CA
Public artists have many ways to visualize what the final product will look like when installed. Hand and computer-generated drawings are most common. There is a lot of information that needs to be generated to make a public art piece that is customized for a space. This is especially true about how to attach the work to existing structures. For the public art at Western Avenue Station, the artist created a to-scale replica of part of the light-rail platform out of plywood. She then used this to work out her ideas for rail panels and art attached to the light poles.
Computer-generated images were also created to explore the possibilities further.
As if that wasn’t enough, the artist also would receive construction documents from the contractor and make further notes to fully understand how the pieces would be integrated into the structure.
Once all the details are worked out and approved, then the artist can start creating the art that is about much more than its details. The final result is about the community around this station, their history and what they might bring into the future.