Sun SalutationsA Holistic Meditative Experience in West Palm Beach
Vito Di Bari explains the fascinating process behind the design of Sun Salutations, outlining one of the biggest strengths of the project—community engagement.
Art changes with each viewing, it is interpreted differently depending on the context of the current times, the location of the piece, and even the mood of each on-looker. In the case of Vito Di Bari’s Sun Salutations, all of these aforementioned factors apply, but the most notable is how this kinetic public artwork changes in different light. Renowned for their magical sunsets, the south of Florida is the perfect setting for this sculpture that pays homage to our awe-inspiring sun and the endless ways its light simultaneously feeds and entrances us.
Colorful, kinetic, and based on the love of nature felt by the residents of West Palm Beach, Sun Salutations opens your eyes to the light.
As people take a break from the city and stroll through Sunset Park in West Palm Beach, Florida, they find themselves surrounded by nature. Instead of interrupting this experience, Sun Salutations elegantly adds to it. The design of Sun Salutations is a reaction completely fused to this environment. From its firm base, it is composed of three metallic rings that rotate around a central axis and a stationary glass sun at the center. Each ring features a cut-out pattern that represents three iconic aspects of the local landscape: its majestic palms, sparkling ocean, and warm sunlight. As a whole, the form of the artwork is similar to a mandala, as it presents colorful layers, smaller toward the center.
Sun Salutations seen with all three rings aligned with the center sun. In this configuration, the connection to two-dimensional Buddhist and Hindu art is most evident.
With movement, the experiential nature of the artwork begins. As the two inner rings of the sculpture rotate, the viewer notices that a breeze has picked up and is encouraged to take a closer look. The texturized orange glass center gently diffuses the rays of a sun just revealed by a passing cloud formation, inviting the public to consider the artwork from a multitude of angles and play with the light themselves. Interaction is not limited here—the rings as well are intended to be touched and gently manipulated by park patrons.
Close-up of the inner sun. A mesmerizing refraction of light is achieved through the use of texturized orange glass.
Community participation though, goes back to the inception of this artwork, as is the case with most of Vito Di Bari’s public artwork. Before finalizing the design, Di Bari held a community engagement meeting where participants were led on both a brainstorming and meditation exercise. While envisioning themselves within the Sunset Park, he frankly asked people what emotions they felt about it, why it was so special to them. From these exercises, an overwhelming response was that the patrons of Sunset Park valued a distinct sense of belonging they felt there. To represent this, Vito opted to use the colors of the West Palm Beach logo, with each indicating a key element of the environment.
Design plans for Sun Salutation, influenced by community engagement processes. The three rings of the sculpture symbolize the three elements of the West Palm Beach logo.
Di Bari and his associated artist studio prioritize community engagement as an integral part of their design process, with a steadfast belief that public art should not only be made for the people, but influenced by the people. Infusing cityscapes with human emotion through art allows us to feel more connected and prouder as citizens. Sun Salutations is not only a reflection of the sun, but also of the vibrant people of West Palm Beach. So, let’s pause, take a deep breath, and let the beauty we see in front of us wash over.
A shadow on the ground adds to the complex play of light and constantly changing presentation of Sun Salutations.