Located on the exterior of the Henry, Cycle of the Sun was created by celebrated Northwest artist Richard (Dick) Elliott as part of our Studio 89 program that commissioned artists to create new works. Elliott originally made nine reflector paintings for the nine sculpture alcoves on the museum’s exterior. Using over 21,000 reflectors, he intended his paintings to react to the way light changes daily and with the seasons (Though Elliott called his works “paintings,” they are actually assemblages of the plastic safety reflectors normally found on bicycles, cars, and trucks).
Cycle of the Sun first went on display on September 23, 1989 to coincide with the Fall Equinox and remained on view one full year. To honor Elliott, who passed away in November 2008, the paintings were reinstalled in April 2010. This October, the Henry will deinstall these works and return them to storage.
In addition to Cycle of the Sun, the Henry also has two prints by Elliott titled Defining Full View. To create these works, Elliott used a computer to help him generate 360 different symbols. The work was printed once in black-and-white and once in color in an effort to explore how patterns can become a kind of language in art and design.
Do you ride the Sound Transit light rail? If so, you might have seen Sound of Light on the Hudson Street wall running nearly two blocks along Martin Luther King Way. This striking series of reflector paintings was awarded the Americans for the Arts Recognition for Innovation in Public Art. You can see another work Eyes on the World at SeaTac International Airport, arranged in a pattern inspired by baskets of the Columbia Plateau.
To learn more about Cycle of the Sun, check out this video about the work featuring the Henry’s former Associate Curator, Sara Krajewski.