Hercules Lite

“Hercules Lite” replicated the form of architect Marcel Breuer’s massive support column at Lehman College Art Gallery in a transparent, fluorescent-edged green plexiglass.  It used light and suspension to contrast with Breuer’s sense of weight, simultaneously calling attention to his achievement and entering into a dialog with it.  It was included in Space Invaders, a show of eighteen different artists’ site-specific installations curated by Karin Bravin.

Fluorescent edged plexiglass

96″ H x 82″ W x 82″ D




Neo-Gothic Rockets

The site-specific window installation “Neo-Gothic Rockets” was commissioned by the owner of 254 Park Avenue South for the corner windows of the second floor. The piece used light and reflective sheeting to play with the building’s architecture, embossed medallions on its spandrels, and arrows on its sides.  In daylight, the shapes of the building’s ornamentation were used to create a shimmering composition of industrial reflective sheeting in primary colors. At night, these shapes were backlit by the geometric glow of secondary colors that created variations of the lines of the windows and mullions. Together they created a sense of movement, amplifying the building’s architecture to mirror the urban rhythms of the neighborhood.

Prismatic reflective sheeting, gel filters, vellum, backlighting
East windows: 14′ (168″) wide x 11’2″ (134″) high
South windows: 15.75′ (189″) wide by 11’2″ (134″) high


Upon Reflection

5 stainless steel boxes whose recessed centers are lined with hidden fluorescent lights, and faced with LEDs beamed through prism rods for a jewel-like effect.  The lights’ reflection is caught in the stainless steel on either side.  The boxes form a column to evoke a totemic, ethereal sensation.

LEDs, stainless steel, fluorescent lights, gel filters, prism rods

110” H x 21 3/4” W x 10 1/2” D



Gesture Drawing 10

Gesture Drawings are made of LEDs and fine wire. They have mirrored and diffused sheets of plexiglass layered over one another, maintaining space between them and embedded with various colors and shapes of LEDs into the top layer’s two sides. Their wiring is on both sides as well, and the diffusion makes the wires on the bottom cast shadows visible from the top. The wires thus become gray lines and shadows that have the complex interplay of pencil drawings. I have been collecting many different colors, sizes and shapes of small LEDs, including some no longer made, with beautiful shapes such as “tombstones,” and rectangles that are transparent from the side and diffused on the top.

LEDs, wire, plexi, mirrored mylar, gel filter, diffusion film

15”W x 15”W x .875”D


Calligraphic Transmissions Drawing
These gouache drawings layer gesture and rich color to capture the energy of light.

Gouache on Paper
9″ x 9″


I started working with light and reflective materials in 2003 to take the spatial and color concerns of my painting into a different realm.  Light’s unique ability to touch both mind and feelings yields a sensation of depth, one that opens into mysterious worlds.

Light both beams into you and envelops you. These very special qualities let me build emotional spaces that resonate with memory and experience.  By amplifying and radiating color outward, into and around the viewer, I can build atmospheres, using color, line, and form in a way that goes beyond painting’s two-dimensional limitations.

My large installations originate with the architecture of the sites they will inhabit.  They are structural, concerned with the way that form, light, and reflected light merge to create a space that is artificial but not fictional: a stage set, lit from without and within.  In my small works, my hand is visible.  They have both spontaneity and hand-drawn lines, even though they’re made from industrial materials such as LEDs, electronics components, plastics, and wire.  Like painting, the work is deeply personal.

Painters have often talked about depicting light.  Today’s technology allows me to use light as medium as well as subject.  In this sense, I am bringing new media into the context of the history of painting.

WEBSITE URL: www.carolsalmanson.com