July 30, 2022

IN FLUX Cycle 10: Reflections from the Artists (Part One)

IN FLUX, a collaborative art initiative, provides opportunities for local artists to create site-specific temporary public art installations in a wide variety of locations. This year, six cities participated, creating 12 artworks across the Valley, four of which are here in Scottsdale! Now that their art is installed, the artists had a chance to reflect on this process.

The Magic of Water by Yuke Li. Photo by Scottsdale Arts.

Yuke Li is a visual artist who has been working in the creative field for more than 10 years. Her mural The Magic of Water is located at Thomas Road between north 81st Way and north 82nd Street. Initially, The Magic of Water was going to be installed using a vinyl wrap but was changed to paint to allow for more artistic control, given the curvature of the pipe. To fulfill her vision, Li hand-painted every inch of her mural.

The Magic of Water by Yuke Li. Photo by Scottsdale Arts.

One obstacle Li faced while painting this piece was the brutal Arizona climate. She painted in the beginning of May, hoping to avoid the famous summer heat, and made sure to use shade and lots of water. Li remembers that every time she started to feel tired, “someone who was passing by would say something nice and encourage me to move forward.” This was Li’s first exterior solo mural, which she was able to complete in eight days.

Shirley Wagner is a Tucson-based artist, who for nearly three decades has been fabricating wall assemblages in her studio. Wagner created three larger-than-life dynamic sculptures at Miller Plaza located at the northeast corner of Indian School Road and Miller Road. Zenith, Surge, and Bliss are colorful hollow steel sculptures, each standing more than 8 feet tall and weighing in at approximately 75 pounds.

Zenith by Shirley Wagner. Photo by Scottsdale Arts.

Miller Plaza is an upbeat center that features shops focused on health and wellness. Wagner wanted these figurative sculptures to be reflective of the plaza, enhance the sense of place, and share the message of living life to the fullest. Wagner’s sculptures began as pencil drawings, which she transformed into three-dimensional cardboard figurines. From these, she constructed small figures using sheets of metal, which were reconstructed in a much larger scale by fabricator-extraordinaire Jason Butler to realize Wagner’s vision.

Surge by Shirley Wagner. Photo by Scottsdale Arts.

“With every step of the process, I learned so much,” Wagner said. “One of the most important and gratifying experiences was my opportunity to tell a story in a public setting. My story is about the human condition. To be able to bring this work to a public setting has been one of the highlights of my career as an artist. On a personal note, I am 72 years old. As a mature artist, there is still so much for me to say. I hope I can inspire other mature artists to find their voice and go after their dreams. Going forward, my plan is to look for more public opportunities where I can expand my stories about humanity and the soaring human spirit.”

Bliss by Shirley Wagner. Photo by Scottsdale Arts.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog series, where artists Hector Ortega and Christopher Luper share their thoughts on creating their sculptures for IN FLUX Cycle 10.

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