Aguas onduladas is a visual phenomenon of motion, reflection and light on water integrated with poetry from Dr. Carmen Tafolla, 2015 State Poet Laureate of Texas and native San Antonio west-sider. The piece invites people into the story of the work, expressing a universal shared human appreciation of beauty in nature and a celebration and pride of culture rooted in the neighborhood.
The city of San Antonio, Texas selected the Elmendorf Lake Park along Apache Creek to undergo improvements as part of a larger city-wide watershed improvements plan. The park is a neighborhood amenity that connects people with nature and affords a variety of opportunities to engage with the water while also learning about stormwater management.
The public art brief was to consider the project site (a traffic island) previously a barrier to access, as a new “front door” to this reinvigorated park. The desire was to create a work that engaged the community and served as an entry icon.
As an integrated public art installation – the work’s primary function is as an iconic marker for both vehicular and pedestrian experiences. Three waveforms of stainless steel create a meandering path inviting people to walk through the park. The waveform patterning creates a visual phenomenon echoing the motion, reflection, and light on water. The patterning is coupled with the integration of poetry from Dr. Carmen Tafolla, former Poet Laureate of Texas and native of the West Side. The poetry selections, “soft voices throughout the Centuries…” in both Spanish and English combine to create a welcoming and iconic entry to the neighborhood park with cultural expressions of ethnic pride in the story of a place. Native plants echo the visual movement of waves, creating an inviting and supportive habitat for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Interior illumination creates a soft glow that is thoughtful of the site as it changes from day to night transforming a site barrier into an opportunity and invitation to explore the park and connect with nature.
The work was informed through site visits and community input meetings and a review of the proposal concept with PASA. The collaborative effort extended to input from a local fabricator (Garces) who would ultimately build and install the work. The results express the desires of the community for the work to include lighting and careful consideration of the material finishes of the piece. The selections of poetry and arrangement of the selections as integrated with work were informed by a collaborative process with Dr. Carmen Tafolla and PASA.