Spirit of Camelback
Kana Tanaka’s Spirit of Camelback was commissioned in conjunction with the renovation of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The beauty, presence, and dominance of Camelback Mountain in the Valley’s landscape inspired the artist. To develop a concept for the artwork, Tanaka spent time exploring Scottsdale and the surrounding area. The artist observed that Camelback Mountain was a key element of the landscape from many points across the Valley—from first arriving at Sky Harbor Airport, when hiking in the area, to looking out from Taliesin West.
Spirit of Camelback serves as an elegant focal point for the newly renovated performing arts center atrium. An array of more than 130 hand-sculpted glass stems punctuate the space, emerging from a curved wall, continuing outside of the building to beckon passersby and welcome guests. Atmospheric lighting flows through the stems and creates a constellation of delicately glowing organic crowns of crackled glass, with differing intensity from day to night. Tanaka’s sculptural installation evokes the mountain with subtle references to its topographical ridge pattern, to the organic forms of cactus blooms found on its slopes, and in the glowing colors of the sunset, seen after a hike to the top. The varying hues, from white to amber to fiery red, create crescendos within the artwork.
Tanaka’s artworks amplify, divide, exaggerate, and distort our perceptions of light. Tanaka believes that “glass shifts our awareness within an instant—affecting our senses directly and broadly.” For her, glass is a net that gathers light and disperses its experience.