Wickford Junction Train Station, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, USA, 2014
Historic train-signaling devices called semaphores inspire contemporary art for a rail station that has been in service since 1870. The artwork includes two complimentary elements, a mosaic mural set within a niche on the station façade and a freestanding sculpture that marks the station entry. The sculpture physically aligns with the mosaic and is visually linked to it through the use of similar forms and colors.
The entry sculpture translates the elements of a semaphore to a grand scale. Three colored glass roundels are set within a cast iron spectacle sitting atop a red stainless steel blade. Hardware connecting the roundels to the spectacle allows them to pivot with the wind. Sunlight makes them glow during the day while at night white light illuminates the blade and makes the colored roundels glow.
The glass mosaic is an abstract composition of blade and roundel elements. At night visual motion is caused by LEDs at the base of the mosaic changing colors, causing the semaphore signals appear to be animated. When the lights are red the red blades and lenses glow and the blue and green recede into the background, and so on with the other colors – each field of color coming forward in succession.
Semaphore was commissioned by the Rhode Island Council on the Arts. The mosaic mural and roundel lenses were fabricated by Franz Mayer of Munich. Silo Workshop fabricated the entry sculpture and installed both pieces at Wickford Junction.