Wife-and-husband duo Natasha Lisitsa and Daniel Schultz (together known as Waterlily Pond) push technical and artistic boundaries to create extraordinary floral installations. The artists were recently invited by De Young Museum in San Francisco to create a piece for the Bouquets to Art exhibition. Taking inspiration from the geometric forms of Matt Mullican’s mural, Between Sign and Subject, Lisitsa and Schultz created Eclipse, a rotating, 1,200-pound (540 kg) deconstructed sphere made of 10,000 flowers.
Speaking of the mural that inspired Eclipse, Lisitsa and Schultz tell My Modern Met, “The drawings use circle geometry as a jumping off point to create rich worlds, and that’s what we did in our work as well.” The impressive installation was designed using modeling software and physical models, in order to explore different ways to carve into the sphere to reveal its inside. “We wanted the piece to physically rotate, and the three-dimensional yin-yang form was a perfect expression of rotational movement,” they explain. “A deconstructed sphere rotating and continually ‘eclipsing’ itself, mesmerizing the viewer with different overlapping perspectives of two halves of a whole.”
After two months of design and fabrication in their studio, Lisitsa and Schultz had just 10 hours to install the huge sculpture on site at the museum. Their team of 30 talented volunteers helped them pull everything together. The incredible, 14 feet in diameter structure features an exterior made of 60 pounds of fluffy sisal fiber. Beneath the textured exterior is a supporting structure made of 500 feet of aluminum, welded into two major halves.
The lightweight outer “shell” features an inner layer of wire that supports the fresh flowers. On the inside, one half features pink flowers and the other half consists of orange flowers. The center is intersected by 1,200 feet of colored string, which meet at a point of tension and focus. The string also conceals three heavy cables, a critical structural element. A hole at the bottom of the sphere offers an exciting view through the string, towards the flowers on the inside. A custom motor enables this 1,200-pound piece to slowly rotate, inviting the viewer to follow the motion from all angles.
“We wanted to stop viewers in their tracks with the dramatic scale and texture, and invite them to follow the piece as it rotates and gradually reveals all its dimensions,” say Lisitsa and Schultz. “We want them to observe it from above, around, and below, and feel time slow down viewing it from underneath, where the composition of strings in movement takes on a kaleidoscopic quality. We know that we achieved this for at least two people out of the 80,000 that viewed Eclipse over the weeklong exhibition—one couple got engaged underneath the piece!”
Check out the Eclipse sculpture below, plus a video documenting Waterlily Pond’s experience installing it.