Completed: September 2001
This ceramic and mirror mosaic sculpture depicts a human face divided in half with one side mirrored and the other side multi-colored. The two sides represent the duality of the self. The sculpture rises 38-feet above a plaza at the south end of the expanded Convention Center.
The artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, is well known for her giant whimsical figures in bright mosaics. She has previously sculpted a garden of 22 Tarot card figures in Italy, is finishing a Noah’s Ark of 23 animals in Jerusalem with Mario Botta, and is creating a sculpture garden in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park. Her work is on display throughout Europe, as part of the Stuart Collection at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), in front of the Mingei Museum and Hall of Champions in Balboa Park, and at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. One of her flamboyant and colorful sculptures, "Nana and the Dolphin", is on loan to the San Diego International Airport and is currently on display outside of Terminal 2.
The Niki Museum, devoted to the artist's life work, opened in 1994 in Nasu, Japan. She was recently honored with a Praemium Imperiale Award – the Nobel Prize of the arts for outstanding achievement in sculpture. The artist's current exhibit at the Springle Museum in Hanover, Germany, will become a permanent collection in the museum.
"We are delighted to work with an artist of Niki de Saint Phalle’s stature," said Catherine Sass, Public Art Director for the Port of San Diego. "This artwork will serve as a vital link from the Convention Center to a pedestrian passageway to the bay."
The sculpture I have proposed to the Convention Center is the image of one person in all his or her magnificence and joy, which is represented by its brightly colored glass flickering in the sunlight. I also show the darker image of the self in the gray and black tones.
There is the feminine side with the longer hair and the masculine side. It is the coming together, the integration of the self.
It is a Western interpretation of Ying Yang. The windows in the head allow us to see Nature and the sea, representing an awareness of our surroundings. The mirrors will give, like the wheel of life, a sense of perpetual movement. Each time of day will be reflected in the mirrors. The sunset, the sunrise.
This sculpture also represents my personal struggle to integrate the different sides of my personality. This is a challenge we all face.
A city also needs a "coming together," an integration of all its elements. What better site than the Convention Center as the soul of the city unified.
-- Niki de St. Phalle
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