Vicki Scuri: Illuminating the Future for Public Art

Jordan Sullivan, marketing communications co-op at Philips Lighting, interviews U.S. designer Vicki Scuri about her public lighting art works in this latest blog entry.

Vicki Scuri's Airway Gateway Renovation Project: Redesign. (All photos courtesy of Philips)

When Vicki Scuri began her career as a printmaker in Seattle, Washington she had no idea that a chance involvement in a public art project would eventually lead to her dream livelihood. “If I could do anything, I want to work with architects, landscape architects, and engineers, and build real things that matter in public spaces,” she says. Today Scuri is an artist and interdisciplinary designer who is nationally known for public art sculptures that incorporate aspects of the local environment—including plants, trees, and rain harvesting systems—to achieve a sense of community identity among residents.

Scuri, who “became fascinated with LED lighting,” is also well-known for the use of the technology in her award-winning projects. For Scuri, the dynamic color-changing lighting acts as the unifying component in her artwork.

Meadowood Bridge in Reno, Nevada, U.S.

An example of this can be seen in her Meadowood Complex project in Reno, Nevada that consists of the newly designed Meadowood Bridge, two renovated bridges, as well as retaining walls. On these structures, Scuri used a patterning—inspired by the Great Basin, a major historical national park in Nevada—consisting of different shapes and geometrical patterns resembling local fossils and rock formations. This project also includes four 40’ tall towers standing at the entrance and exit of the Meadowood Bridge, which are lit on the inside by color-changing LED lighting. The sun and the LED lighting create both a daytime and nighttime presence while the “Great Basin” inspired patterning creates a sense of place, tying residents together through the use of public art.

Vicki Scuri's Meadowood Complex Improvement LED lighting project.

Scuri’s favorite projects are the ones that promote sustainability and green energy. Scuri emphasizes the importance of accessibility, affordability, and maintainability, all features that LED lighting embodies. As a gardener, Scuri is also extremely mindful of the environment and incorporating it into her art pieces. When she has the ability to design a project that promotes sustainability and green energy, she jumps on it. Airway Gateway, a renovation of the busiest intersection in El Paso, Texas includes 16 functional wind turbines, 29 illuminated sculptures, and arced planters with native plants and trees, fully embodying the sustainable aspect of Scuri’s passions. This is her favorite project thus far, and the use of different types of lighting, technology, and natural forms make the project unique.


Vicki Scuri's Meadowood Bridge LED lighting project.

By using LED lighting, Scuri has the opportunity to create unique and unusual pieces. Her Arlington Boulevard project in Virginia placed public art along, above, and throughout a highway. Scuri used laser-cut patterns in the shape of native redbud trees that are backlit by LED lighting to create a new entrance to highways that were often missed due to busy traffic and poorly marked intersections. “Illuminating a highway is different than a stand-alone piece that has no concerns with traffic,” said Scuri.

“I am an artist inspired by nature. Also, I am influenced by the computer, as well as living in a time that is so technologically influenced, you cannot ignore it anymore. I always struggle between the two parts of me, technology and the environment, and seeing what the resolution of these two opposites creates,” said Scuri. She incorporates programmable LED lighting to promote awareness of seasonal change, holidays, and community celebrations throughout the year. “Society is so technologically and industrially based, having these deep anchors into nature, the passing of seasons, and shared celebrations promotes a sense of our humanity,” said Scuri. The residents’ enthusiasm and understanding of her artwork is what drives Scuri’s passion. Despite challenges, Scuri always succeeds, and the end result is a vibrant, illuminated piece that becomes a beloved and important landmark to the city in which it stands. With the incorporation of lighting, Scuri connects the past with the future through the natural environment and the use of modern technology.


Meadowood Bridge LED lighting project.

Scuri’s projects have received noted awards and recognition for their context sensitive designs and artwork. Meadowood Complex was awarded a 2013 Nevada American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award for its sustainability and vibrant lighting display. Airway Gateway was voted a 2014 Best of the Border site for Public Art, a people’s choice award sponsored by the El Paso Times. Arlington Boulevard was an “Honor Awardee” for a 2014-2015 American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington, Engineering Excellence Award, for its beautiful artwork and color-changing lighting displays. All three of these projects have been included in the CODAawards Top 100 Projects.

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