December 13, 2012

Leo Villareal: An Artist With a Glowing Touch


Leo Villareal’s “Cosmos” installation on the Cornell campus.

Leo Villareal’s “Cosmos” installation on the Cornell campus.

If light has a muse, I’d like to suggest his name is Leo Villareal! He’s been a busy muse, at that, completing glistening projects at Cornell with the support of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art on campus. His “Cosmos” is composed of nearly 12,000 energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs), placed on a grid above the Museum’s Mallin Sculpture Court.

Leo Villareal “composing” his Cosmos.

Leo Villareal “composing” his Cosmos.

The artist calls the installation, a collaboration with architect Walter Smith, “abstract and very open-ended.” Lisa and Richard Baker, alumni of Cornell, funded the project installed in the I.M. Pei-designed building. Attached to the ceiling through electrical junction boxes and measuring around 45 x 68 feet, the installation was overseen by Andrea Inselmann, the museum’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Daniel Aloi tells the full story on the university’s blog ChronicleOnline.

Westward, Villareal will transform the San Francisco Bay Bridge with an interactive glistening display if The Bay Lights has any say in the matter. Monies are now being raised to fund the effort, which they plan to have in place in early 2013 and maintain for two years. The organization’s site has a fuller explanation of the project, and news of the progress can be followed on their Facebook page or by following their Twitter stream. We at Global Lighting wish them success in lighting up the iconic span crossing one of the world’s most beautiful bays.

Villareal’s BUCKYBALL in Madison Square Park in New York City

Villareal’s BUCKYBALL will remain in Madison Square Park in New York City until February 1, 2013.

And if you’re a tourist in New York before February 1, 2013, visit Madison Square Park, at West 26th Street in Manhattan, to see Villareal’s BUCKYBALL,  two nested geodesic sculptural spheres made up of 180 LED tubes arranged in a series of pentagons and hexagons, a surprisingly contemporary sculpture created from a traditional craft. Known as a “Fullerene,” which refers to the form discovered by Buckminster Fuller, individual pixels are located every 1.2 inches along the tubes, which are capable of displaying 16 million distinct colors. Villareal controls the hues with his own software. Now do you agree with me that this artist is indeed light’s muse? I thought so!

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