COLLECTION | Burning Bright

Shawn Smith’s work investigates the slippery intersection between the digital world and reality. Specifically, he is interested in how we experience nature through technology. Within his work, Smith creates three-dimensional sculptural representations of two-dimensional images of nature. Building objects pixel by pixel, this meticulous process directly contrasts the slipperiness and speed of the digital world. Through this process of pixelation, details become distilled, distorted, or deleted. Each pixel plays an important role in the identity of the object, the same way each cell plays a crucial role in the identity of an organism.

Inspired by Fort Worth’s nickname “Panther City,” the artist employed the panther is a metaphor for the city and its growth. The tail end of the panther is heavily pixelated and broken into small fragmented pieces that gradually form together into the solid structure of the head of the panther, just as small enclaves in the area are growing together to create a single community, moving forward with purpose and strength.

The colors of the 813 panther pixels create an abstraction of the natural panthers found in Texas. To further reflect the community in the design, the sculpture is made up of 31 different colors, each of which is taken from things near Spinks Airport and around Council District 6. They also include accents of the gold, blue, and red from the firefighters’ shield, and white from their unique fire trucks.

Shawn Smith worked with Colby Brinkman and his team at Metal Mantis to bring this project from conceptual design to reality. Read about the installation process featured by 360 West Magazine.

This public art project was funded by the 2014 Bond Program and dedicated to the City of Fort Worth on September 13, 2019.

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See projects currently underway by visiting the Art In Progress page.