In recent years, Matthew Mazzotta, a visual artist who completed a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard GSD in 2018, has produced site-specific installations that have caught the art world’s attention, one of them being a giant pink flamingo inside Tampa’s central airport terminal. Now, Mazzotta has completed what he calls his “quietest artwork” to date in Downey, California, entitled Wrapped in Sunbeams.
With collaborators Sujin Lim, Stephanie Yeung, Daniel Shieh, and Yalun Li, Wrapped in Sunbeams is a shade structure that looks like a barn. Its made of dichroic glass with an orange fruit weathervane on top, a nice Dadaist touch. The dichroic glass, Mazzotta said, creates a constantly changing image of soft pastel colors and shadows that change throughout the day.
This, Mazzotta elaborated, highlights the core themes of his client Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center’s mission, an organization that helps heal residents grappling with life-altering traumatic physical injuries. At the same time, the permanent installation gives staff and residents gathering space for socializing, finding shade, and a good spot to participate in Restorative Care Village outdoor activities.
“This is the quietest piece I’ve ever created,” Mazzotta said in a statement. “When I was developing the artwork I interviewed patients who had sustained life altering injuries and they described wanting a calming space to meet friends and family. The dichroic glass used for the walls and roof continuously changes colors depending on the intensity and position of the sun, casting multicolor shadows throughout the day. The experience of bathing in the colored lights and shadows while inside the barn structure embodies Rancho’s mission for its healing residents: ‘Movement and Transition.’”
Mazzotta said the installation, which opened in 2023, is a balance of the Center’s historical farming identity and its contemporary contributions to the field of rehabilitation medicine over the last 100 years. Leaning into his reputation for figurative flare, the orange-shaped weathervane that crowns Wrapped in Sunbeams is an easter egg: It comes from an article in the Los Angeles Times published November 6, 1902, titled “Poor Farm amid Orange Blossoms.” “A poor farm in the midst of an orange grove… wrapped in sunbeams and wreathed with flower gardens, the Los Angeles County Poor Farm… transmitting the influence of its buoyancy into human hearts,” the article reads.
Thus, the orange pays tribute to Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center’s founding in 1888, and its original title: “The County Poor Farm.” Mazzotta further noted that the artwork was developed through interviews with patients and staff, a process which inspired the artist to make something that could “let your mind be at ease for a minute.”