Petaluma-made art project in the running for major design award

Life on Earth Art’s ‘Unbound’ among 100 nominees for a CODA award.|

The 2023 CODA Awards (Collaboration of Design + Art) are now taking place across the globe, with 100 mind-blowing international art installations currently in contention for prizes in numerous categories. Among the nominees is a massive, multi-dimensional art piece titled “Unbound,” featuring hundreds of winged hearts escaping from a cage, flying overhead across an enormous multi-purpose room at the Napa State Hospital.

The piece was developed, and substantially constructed, in Petaluma, by artist Tracy Ferron and a team of heart-building recruit, organized through her Petaluma nonprofit Life on Earth Art.

“Unbound” is one of three North Bay projects nominated for a 2023 CODA award. “Unum,” a large, illuminated, $295,000 metal sculpture designed by Blessing Hancock and created through Skyrim Studio Inc., can be seen in Courthouse Square in downtown Santa Rosa. “Infinity” is a massive, $750,000 sculpture by Gordon Huether, currently installed on a garden-covered hill at Stanly Ranch Resort.

A jury of international artists and design leaders will choose one project in 10 categories: Landscape, Residential, Healthcare, Commercial, Institutional, Liturgical, Public Spaces, Transportation, Hospitality and Education.

In a media release submitted by CODA, self-described as a “global online community that celebrates design projects featuring commissioned artworks,” organizers report that the 100 pieces in the competition were selected from 411 submissions, ranging from a Burning Man installation called “Beam” to “Orb,” a large metal sculpture erected among the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

You don’t have to be a jury member to have an impact on which projects win.

Through a simultaneous online voting effort, art fans from across the planet are invited to participate in CODA’s People’s Choice competition. From votes cast between July 18-31, the two top projects will receive the People’s Choice Award.

“The top 100 projects embody not only the creative prowess of top visionaries in interior, architectural, or public spaces,” states the press release, “but also symbolize how art and design bring peace, prosperity, and profound meaning to our lives.”

On the CODA website, each project is comprehensively represented with pictures, detailed descriptions and artist statements, along with a button visitors can use to cast their vote.

“’Unbound’ is an 80-ft sculpture which transforms a large hall at one of California’s largest psychiatric hospitals into an evocative space of hope and healing,” states the project’s entry on the Coda Awards website. “With each layer of its design, both therapeutic and artistic, Unbound models the paradigm we need to see in the world.”

The papier mache hearts that figure prominently in the piece were made by an enormous assemblage of people, including 500 psychiatric patients, 200 hospital staff and over 800 community volunteers, many of them working on their hearts in Petaluma at one of Life on Earth Art’s studio spaces.

Unum,“ as described in its own voting entry, is ”a large-scale undulating metal sculpture incorporating 32 languages in the form of words and phrases weaved in seamlessly using laser jet cutting technology. Sitting proudly in the city center at 12-feet high and 15’-feet wide, the sculpture utilizes key words and phrases submitted by members of the local community to showcase the diversity of people living in the area.“

Residents of the city of Santa Rosa were encouraged to submit “phrases and languages that represented their place in the community,” snippets of text that the striking steel sculpture ultimately incorporated into the elegantly mesmerizing structure.

“Although massive in scale,” says the site of Napa’s “Infinity,” “this structure has a calming effect with its never ending design and subtle lighting on the underside that gently beckons residents and guests to visit its hilltop views.”

The winners in all categories will be announced in late August.

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