Few artists can change the face of a landscape like Grimanesa Amorós.
The Peruvian-born artist’s latest installation, Golden Waters, transforms the 50-mile-long Arizona Canal into an enthralling exhibition of light and dimension. Amorós arranged dozens of 162-foot-long LED tubes along the Scottsdale Waterfront radiating from Soleri Bridge and Plaza, a pedestrian pathway designed by architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri. Like Amorós’s exhibition, the bridge was commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art.
“It was the first time I worked with water and also in the desert,” she told Architectural Digest. “It was 117 degrees one day, and it was quite a challenge.”
Amorós is known around the world for her remarkable light shows that combine technology and architecture to bring out an inner identity in a given space. In 2014, she dazzled New York City (where she does much of her work) with a similar light sculpture at 125 Maiden Lane in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The two-toned neon light trails of Golden Waters hover above the water, skimming it at certain points while entrancing viewers with a curving intertwinement of reflections. Architectural Digest notes that the display is a tribute to Arizona’s unique canal systems modeled after the 13th-century Hohokam tribe of the American Southwest.
“They had these pre-Incan canals that irrigated the whole desert, so I thought it would be interesting to make the canals visually active,” Amorós said. “When I got this opportunity, I didn’t want to just put my work on top of this canal, I wanted to learn about Arizona’s relationship with water and Soleri’s utopian vision. It’s all quite amazing.”