Phoenix, Ariz. – A multifaceted new art installation graces the path in front of the South Mountain Community Library in Phoenix, Arizona. Focused on integrating bold visual elements and words, PASSAGE consists of four “poetry trellises” and three “acoustic chairs.” These works use sound and sunlight to create poetry audio files and project fragments of written poetry onto the path, engaging library users and passersby in a three-dimensional experience of words.
With the help of local poet Alberto Rios, visual artists Mags Harries and Lajos Héder selected poetry fragments focused on elements of the South Mountain landscape. The trellises, for example, have nature-themed lines of poetry welded into their canopies and set above glass; when sunlight hits the canopy, it projects the shadow of the poem fragment onto the path below. Visitors can walk over and around the words as the words themselves shift with the location of the sun. One of the projected passages reads: “Shade—small fragment of night, cool / Dream’s breath on the back of your neck.” Another reads: “When first raindrops hit dry mesquite pods, / Ancient songs fill the desert.”
The acoustic chairs sit near the library entrance. The concrete chairs and the pavement surrounding them are embedded with jumbled steel letters and each chair plays a sound recording of a poem. Visitors can sit in the chairs and listen to a poem being read. The chairs play 19 poems in all.
The project was funded by the Maricopa County Community College District and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. The total cost for the project was $155,000.