In the dusty darkness of the New Mexico night, light floats through the night air: an ethereal rainbow emanating from the desert floor. Along a remote frontage road of highway I-40, amidst giant billboards and undeveloped land parcels, artist Travis Somerville’s light installation, Rainbow Warrior, will transform a ubiquitous plot of desert into an experience of immaterial mirage. Rainbow Warrior will be an evocative, solar-powered light installation in the expansive desert near Moriarty, New Mexico. Comprised of solar panels and LED lights, the piece will be self-sustaining: by day gathering energy, by night forming an arc of light. Low-impact and self-contained, the system will be buried in the ground so that the only effect is light and color in the atmosphere. An inverted sun pillar in the landscape, Rainbow Warrior will evoke the atmospheric optics of the desert phenomenon virga, caused by precipitation evaporating before it hits the ground. Somerville’s installation, coming from the Earth rather than the clouds, will be ethereal, malleable and responsive to the larger environment it inhabits: transformed by dust particles, wind, sun and snow. When Somerville was approached by the community arts organization Earthbound Moon to create a permanent installation, he began an investigation into the history of the land, wanting the work to be site-responsive conceptually, not just physically. Excavating the past through stories and iconography is central in Somerville’s work, so the artist searched for a genuine connection with the surrounding community. Uncovering the legend Warriors of the Rainbow, told across generations and tribes of Native Americans, Somerville had found his root. Warriors of the Rainbow is a prophecy about those who will save the Earth from environmental destruction. “Keepers of legends, stories, and cultural rituals,” these warriors are promised to restore purity to the Earth and justice to Mankind, ending the current state of environmental destruction. The Warriors of the Rainbow legend is a historic cache of culture, heritage and faith for the Native American community. Somerville’s Rainbow Warrior, like the legend itself, is a work that comes out of the Earth to tell the story of the Earth. The installation speaks to an universal concern of environmentalism through the lens of the Native American community. The installation will be created in collaboration with Dan Dodt and Earthbound Moon founders Alex Clausen, Amy Sampson, Carson Murdach, Lee Sparks Pembleton, Libby Reed, and Jon Whitfill. As a site-and-community engaged project, Travis Somerville’s Rainbow Warrior is responsive in the purest way, inextricably linking environment, community and art. Ephemera for the bleary-eyed truckers, and for seeking art-enthusiasts.
Risks and challenges
We will be installing the project beginning the week of October 12th and hope to have it completed and up and running by October 22nd 2013 weather permitting. We have planned this out with minimal risks other than having to deal with the natural elements. The device itself will be built off site in San Francisco and trucked out to Moriarty, NM.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The light emanating from the device will be very subtle and will not create any light noise in the sky. It is more ethereal than literal.
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