The Elements

McClintock High School Bus Shelter, Tempe, Arizona
18’ obelisk, 18’ x 12; canopy
handmade clay and stone mosaic on fabricated steel bus shelter

Niki Glen Studios The Elements is a mixed media sculpture that functions as both a work of art and as a bus shelter. It is created around a large 18’ obelisk and incorporates fabricated steel, handmade clay and stone mosaics, lighting elements, flagstone, and river rock seating. The elements (water, earth, sun and wind) are all shown in this piece designed by McClintock High School students during art classes. Over 250 students participated in this project and actively learned new skills.


Glen compiled drawings from students to help generate the idea and then put them together in this design. Design ideas that were included are: a laser-cut time capsule, neon, metal bike rack, steel supports in the shape of tree limbs. The students were instrumental for the design and construction of this public art piece: students brainstormed and designed ideas in drawing and painting classes; ceramic students helped to fabricate; and design students worked on original designs. Community workshops, support, and volunteers were instrumental in making this large scale project successful.

TheElements7PB_580Students researched innovative ways to represent each of the four natural elements in this sculpture. To represent the sun, students learned about solar power and installed solar powered neon lighting to operate at night. To represent water, students created a blue, wavy mosaic river that runs around the sculpture. To acknowledge the wind, there is a kinetic wind feature at the top of the bus shelter. And to reference the earth and nature, the sculpture is shaped to look like a tree. Additionally, all the elements were represented in the shapes and textures on the tiles. Other details that made this sculpture realistic and creative include roots made out of bent rebar, handmade ceramic tile with red iron oxide to create a leathery-looking texture, and the use of real river rock. Paying tribute to the four elements, this sculpture stands like a tree and shelters the occupants from all the elements.

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