When Jeff and Stacy Robinson began to envision an installation that would fill a three-story atrium in their airy house in Denver, CO, they turned to Jane Guthridge. The collectors knew Guthridge’s work from exhibitions at the Space Gallery and were impressed with the way she abstracts from the ever-changing light and natural world of the West to produce shimmering works in a variety of mediums, in both two and three dimensions.
The challenge was to fill and unify a tall space illuminated by an oculus at the top and recessed lights that shine straight down on a spiraling staircase. Sketches provided a simple but elegant solution: strands of cable to which are affixed small curved disks that would simulate the dappled light patterns in trees, somewhat like a cross between a shower of aspen leaves and a light rainfall.
The next step was to find a material that captured and reflected the available light. From a dowel rod, the artist hung disks made from different materials. “We spent a lot of time looking at samples to see how they’d look,” says Guthridge. “We tried a frosted Plexiglas, which I’ve used in other works, and dichroic resin that changes color.” But neither afforded the desired lambent, flickering qualities artist and collectors were aiming for. Finally they chose a material known as Varia Ecoresin—pieces of translucent silk embedded in resin—that was then cut into four-inch-long ovoid shapes, heated in an oven in the artist’s studio, and molded into gently curving disks. Colors ranged from a pale champagne to metallic gold, with both high gloss and satin finishes.
The next step was to lay out the barebones of the installation on the floor of Space Gallery and once she was happy with the sequence and spacing, Guthridge attached the disks to the cables. Altogether the installation would comprise 500 disks attached to 26 lines of 30-foot cable.
Michael Burnett, owner and director of Space Gallery, installed the two concentric acrylic circles from which the cables are suspended, at the top of the atrium, just beneath the oculus. The next day, Guthridge and Burnett worked together to hang all 26 of the cables using a scaffold that rises 35 feet off the ground (that’s Burnett at the top of the photo on the right).
Of the final work, Guthridge says, “The Robinsons love it. When you see the installation, the light will be always changing, and the disks quiver back and forth, responsive to air currents. In the end, when I put the photos on my website, I decided to call the installation Shimmer.”