University Museums

Title: Light River
Name: Sculpture
Date: 1997
Medium: Holographic laminated glass and Stainless Steel Rods and light
Dimensions: 384 x 96 x 72 in. (975.4 x 243.8 x 182.9 cm)
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: An Iowa Art in State Buildings Project for the Student Health Center. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Student Health Center, Main floor atrium
Object Number: U97.132
More Information
Initially trained in stained glass, Philadelphia artist Ray King has been designing,
creating, and installing site-specific sculptures throughout the United States since the 1970s. Using glass and metal as his primary media, King's work deals with geometry, architecture, color, and especially light. His Light Projecting Helices, a 140-foot long, light-activated sculpture created from stainless steel cable and dichroic and holographic laminated glass, was installed in the Jacobson Athletic Building in February 1997. King's second public art project at Iowa State is Light River, installed in August 1997 in the entrance lobby of the Student Health Center. Like Light Projecting Helices, Light River was created using dichroic glass bars, which reflect one color but transmit another, making the colors change with the shifting sunlight throughout the day. King enjoys the fluctuations in color, pattern, and texture created by his work, saying, "I'm really in favor of 'live' sculpture where the pieces breathe and change." The 441 glass bars that make up Light River hang from the 30-foot tall ceiling on thin stainless steel cables, projecting kaleidoscopic colors onto the walls and floor. Light River can be viewed during regular business hours at the Student Health Center.

Light River is a light activated sculpture composed of suspended 1/16-inch stainless steel cables with dichroic glass bars connected at intervals along the cables. Dichroic is a definition for a thin-film coating that has the thickness of one-half of a wavelength of light -- thus it reflects one color and transmits its complimentary color. The overall form of the glass sculpture tapers to link to the geometry of the entry space and to expose the dichroic glass bars to the sunlight from the three south facing windows. The sunlight will trigger an explosion of reflected colored patterns up and onto the complex geometry of the landing and walls to the north as well as project colored patterns onto the floor and walls in its vicinity. The 1/16-inch cables are hung in a 6 X 6 inch grid suspended from the ceiling close to the three southern windows. The glass bars are made of three laminated layers of glass, with a range of four (magenta, blue, yellow, and cyan) different dichroic colors. These colors will change with the angle of light as well as the mix of projecting and reflecting light. Although there are four dichroic colors, each color will always appear different as one views the sculpture. This is because the view from a person's eyes will be at a slightly different angle for each glass element. The piece measures approximately 32 feet long X 4 feet high X 6 feet wide and consists of 272 cable sections that contain 441 dichroic glass bars 10 X 1 1/2 inches. This is a work of art that comes alive in the sunlight and will also become animated with electric lights at night. Light has always represented health, goodness, and purity. These colors are created from pure (non-pigmented) light. It is my true hope that this project will add to the healing properties of the Student Health Center.