RTD art: Michael Clapper at the Arapahoe at Village Center station
The three tall sculptures at the Arapahoe at Village Center light-rail station look like they could fit together as a puzzle. But as it turns out, there's nothing puzzling about the concept behind this piece: Sculptor Michael Clapper created it to represent Greenwood Village itself. He recently talked with us about how the work came about.
RTD Michael Clapper's "Nucleus."
Westword: Where are you from? Where do you reside now?
Michael Clapper: I am originally from the Akron area of Ohio. I now reside in Denver,and maintain a studio at the Ironton facility.
How did your collaboration with RTD come about?
I applied to the "request for qualifications" that was sent out to the media and was chosen as one of three artists to develop and present a concept for the Arapahoe Station.
How did you come up with the Idea for this piece?
I typically research a site to try and distill its essence. I read historical articles about the formation of Greenwood Village, where the station is located. This informed my thought process as to the design of the artwork.
What or who inspired this piece? And how?
After researching the site, I came upon the idea of illustrating the actual formation of Greenwood Village. The Village was formed by various annexations, and I sought to illustrate this through an abstract, puzzle-like sculpture. The artwork consists of three forms that, when looked at from a distance, look as if they are one piece. The borders that divide the three forms are notched to look as if they could interlock with each other if they were pushed together. This is to convey the idea of a whole, made from a series of parts.
When people walk past your work, what do you hope they are thinking and feeling?
Well, it may be a little unreasonable to expect everyone walking by to understand the exact meaning of an abstract work of art, so I just hope that the form, in its purity and simplicity of white marble, works to soothe the harried traveler.
How do you feel about public transportation?
I think that it's wonderful that the City of Denver is investing in such an ambitious public transportation system. The highways are crowded enough, and public transportation allows the commuter to focus on other things instead of stressing over the daily rush hours. If I didn't work from my home studio, I'd certainly be on that train on a regular basis.
What is your favorite piece of public art?
Although they are now a few years old, my favorite works of public art are in Chicago. I've always been a fan of Anish Kapoor, and his stainless steel "bean" in Millennium Plaza is nothing short of stunning. Similarly, Jaume Plensa's fountain is the perfect combination of surprise, citizen interaction and fun.
To view more of Michael Clapper's work visit his website.