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Dale Eldred
Earth and Sky Garden, 1994

View of Earth and Sky Garden in interior courtyard of USF College of Public Health

LOCATION: University of South Florida, Tampa
College of Public Health

Earth and Sky Garden was completed just prior to Dale Eldred’s death in 1993, and was installed by his widow, Roberta Lord. The piece utilizes a series of etched glass and steel diffraction planes to “ignite” the exterior entrance area, interior lobby, and courtyard with the colors of the visible light spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). The spectrum’s colors are in a constant state of flux due to the sun’s changing position and declination in the sky. This effect is further amplified by the movement of the viewer, whose perception of the colors is effected by their point of observation. The colors are visible on the diffraction planes themselves, and are pumped onto the surrounding walls and windows. The courtyard presentation is enhanced by a sculptural element featuring a large stainless steel pendulum suspended from the skylight directly over a bronze cone, which is positioned on a perfect granite stone. The tension between the pendulum and the bronze cone and the celebration of materials suggested by the use of steel, bronze and granite re-enforces the theme suggested in the title Earth and Sky Garden.

Since the work was designed for optimum effect during daylight hours, Eldred included an element that could speak to the visual spectrum regardless of conditions. A series of conical elements, presented in Plexiglas bonnets, replicate the visible range through the use of pure powdered pigment on the skin and surrounding area of the cones. Presented in an interior location adjacent to the courtyard, the Visible Range Elements, as Eldred referred to them, are a stand-alone visualization of the visible spectrum.


View of Earth and Sky Garden exterior column

View of Earth and Sky Garden visible spectrum cones

View of Earth and Sky Garden bronze cone

Earth and Sky Garden made possible by Florida's Art in State Buildings Program