George M. Sullivan Power Plant, Anchorage, Alaska, USA, 2017
Cosmic Rise explores interconnections of energy and light as revealed in the Alaskan environment. The images of the artwork express this from a macro to micro level. Flares from the sun, original source of all energy on earth, extend through space and as they hit earth’s magnetic field, rendered in blue lines, some of the electrically charged particles released from the sun enter the earth's atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen and become visible on earth as the Aurora Borealis, rendered on the mural in green. The aurora borealis can store hundreds of thousands of megawatts of electricity and represents electric power on a mega scale.
The red stars and constellations in the mural are visible in Alaska’s sky and include Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Corona Borealis, Lynx, Gemini, Taurus, and the Pleiades. Polaris, the North star, is represented as a crown in reference to the name of the main turbine at the power plant, Regina, which translates to “queen” in Latin. The crown placed in this symbolic location signifies Regina as the “guiding light” of the plant. Two large figures in the center of the mural represent animals associated with Ursa Major: the bear is a Western association and the caribou is an Inuit association, both symbolic of Alaska.
Moving to the microscopic, the stars transition to snow crystals and molecules of oxygen and nitrogen- gases found in the Aurora - as well as water and natural gas – chemicals used in the thermal generation plant where natural gas powers turbines and steam energy.
The mural images are superimposed and visible together during daylight times. At dark times, the artwork comes alive with lighting effects that make certain images pop while others recede into the dark background, making the artwork dynamic in the darkness.
Cosmic Rise was commissioned by the Municipality of Anchorage 1% for Art Program. The mural was painted by Conor Hollis, Amorette Lana, Lauren Youngsmith, Robin Munro, and Anna Charney. Municipal Light & Power electricians graciously installed the lighting system.