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The Making of “A Grander Flow”

The Making of “A Grander Flow”

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Early September marked the installation date for California sculptor Deanna Marsh to reveal A Grander Flow — her 21 fused-glass panels of river-like glass that "flow" down image left the entry wall of the new Enermodal Engineering building situated on the banks of the nearby Grand River.

Although the soaring ceiling and abundant skylights allow sunshine to pour into the new lobby, the space really comes alive with shimmers of light reflecting off Marsh’s sinuous 12.5 meter glass sculpture.

"Walking" the River

Before cutting a single shard of glass, Marsh spent several weeks researching Google Earth aerial views of the Grand River. Marsh says that because so many people post photos linked to GPS coordinates image right along the river, she could electronically "walk" the river via her computer in California.

Next, Marsh worked on multiple sketches to refine the characteristics that make the Grand River unique. She soon generated scaled-down drawings of the large sculpture, along with glass color samples. She and the client worked together through email, fine-tuning the shape and layout to coordinate with the building’s architecture and to interact with the Enermodal logotype already installed on the wall.

Green Art for a Green Project

Additionally, Marsh took great care to ensure efficient use of glass by calculating the size and shape of each section of the sculpture. She wanted to take advantage of every centimeter of glass length and width, and then to recycle any scraps left over into the next new section. Sometimes that would mean grinding those glass scraps into pebble-sized rocks and using them for shoreline material.

This last year Marsh installed solar panels on the roof of her studio, so only the California sunshine powers the long kiln-fired annealing process for each piece of glass. "It makes sense to me that the energy I use to fuse my glass interpretation of nature should come from our strongest, natural energy resource — the sun," Marsh says.

A Green Transition in Thought

While Marsh’s focus may seem to center only on the natural environment, she says that she has a duality of themes. As she explains: "The river sculpture reflects the vitality and changing nature of our ecosystems — just as rivers carve new courses or vary in flow by season. But the Grander image left Flow river sculpture for Enermodal also represents a transition in thought as it flows down the wall.

"At its highest point, the river begins to thaw from its winter-bound state. Ice chunks catch the current and melt further downstream. The deep-blue water peeks through the icy top layer. This section represents traditional thinking about our environment, which largely ignores signs of global warming but that now begins to open to the need for change.

"Moving down the wall, early spring growth emerges, and the blue water becomes laced with slender currents of green — symbolic of receptivity to green solutions coming more and more into the mainstream of public thought.

"As the green mixes into the blue, the water toward the bottom turns to a warmer shade of teal, and we see a rich mix of wildlife, abundant growth, and increased flow begin to take shape. River life flourishes, renews, restores, and redeems old channels of thought. And as the pivotal point to that expansion of abundance and success, the Enermodal logo serves as the "bridge" to integrating green thinking into our work and lives."

Discover the River

Marsh seeks in all her art — and especially in her sculptures that interpret the environment — to reconnect the viewer with their link to the natural world. And that harmonious relationship image right patterns the same efforts of architects of the Enermodal building, Grander View, to reconnect the employees and community with an under-appreciated stretch of river.

Speaking as an artist, Marsh says that her interpretation of the local beauty of the Grand River, its geography and biology, inspired the many glass shapes of the sculpture that shimmer with light and seasonal colors. She says that by using ultra-modern materials in combination with classic forms, she has found a way to bring the best of the natural world to our urban landscape. She says, "I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to honor the Grand River through my art and to preserve my vision of its diversity of life and natural beauty." She adds, "The Enermodal project has allowed me to affirm the region’s uniqueness, value, and splendor in sculptural form."

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Through her sculpture, Marsh hopes the viewer can participate in the landscape through self-discovery of the river’s unique place and time. "I hope that employees and visitors to the building will feel the creative energy of green thinking and living. But more than anything, I hope everyone who enters this space and views my sculpture will appreciate the real river just outside the walls in a whole new way."

Marsh’s sculptural work has found homes in public and private collections throughout North America. To see her new sculptures, please visit her at her Auburn, California studio or go online at deannamarsh.com. Please direct any inquiries to deanna@central-park-studio.com.

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