Miami, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina-based artist Ivan Toth Depeña has been fascinated with the properties of light throughout his academic studies of art and architecture, including a Masters Degree in Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. “Light, both natural and artificial, has been pivotal in my development,” he says. “When I opened myself up to experimentation and technology, moving away from technique and representation, things started to evolve exponentially for me.”
Part of his evolution as an artist who works with light as a medium recently came to fruition in a Denver suburb. “When I initially visited the site, and Denver in general, I was very impressed by the quality of light—the sun, the dusk and dawn transitions. I wanted to figure out a way to take advantage of the light and at the same time replicate the experience at night,” he says. “Simultaneously, I was struck by the feeling that there was a certain monochromatic visual quality to the built environment. I wondered how to introduce color.”
The result is “Color Field,” a permanent, public art installation at the Federal Center Station, a stop on the new West Rail Line, part of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) commuter and light-rail FasTracks Project, in Lakewood, Colorado. The sculpture’s 18 tree-like structures cast ever-changing patterns of color across more than 100 feet of ramps, stairs, and walkways outside the station, and has been described as an abstract kaleidoscope.
The laminated and tempered colored-glass panels—each a unique, computer-generated lens design—will be back-lit by LEDs at night. “I want the sculpture to change constantly and to have a direct relationship with the landscape and the solar system,” Depeña says. “I varied the size and positioning of the colored-glass lenses and I used the varying angles of the sun throughout the calendar year as mechanisms to produce an ever-evolving experience. ‘Color Field’ will not be the same in the morning as it will be in the afternoon. It will not be the same this week as it will be next month.” RTD Art Administrator Lindsey Smith is thrilled with the colorful addition to the new rail station. She says, “The piece evolved into magnificent light sculptures that the RTD and the city of Lakewood are proud to have added to our art collection.”
Depeña’s other recent public art projects include “Reflect,” a permanent light-based installation for the Stephen Clark Government Center lobby in downtown Miami, and commissions for other light sculptures: “Arc,” a large-scale outdoor sculpture at the Northeast Regional Library in Aventura, FL; “Inside/Out”, a building-sized light installation at the University of New Mexico Pit Athletic Facility; and “Cascade,” an artificial light waterfall in the Reitz Union Expansion at the University of Florida Gainesville campus.
Photography courtesy of Ivan Toth Depeña