Local artists embellish I-35 with globe light installations

By Kalena Reynolds | Reporter

Six globe lights titled “Luminary Spirit” were created by local artists Morgan Eyring and Andrea La Valleur-Purvis to hang beneath the overpass of Interstate 35 across 5th and 6th Streets. Each globe was inspired by elements relating to Waco, and the project was started through the collaboration of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and Creative Waco.

Eyring and La Valleur-Purvis created three globes each. Eyring made the globes titled “Wild Flora,” “Taking Off” and “Waco Structures.” La Valleur-Purvis created the globes “Pop Culture,” “Lines of Diversity” and “Beautiful Habitat.”

“The original idea was actually unfolded, I think, four to five years ago, when TxDOT and the city of Waco were kind of building the plan for the highway,” Eyring said. “And this is something that was seen in San Antonio — there’s a project called ‘Ballroom Luminoso‘ that was completed, I think, back in 2010.”

“Waco Structures” was the first globe that Eyring started working on, and it ended up being the last one she finished. Eyring included prominent buildings and bridge structures in Waco for the globe.

The globe “Wild Flora” was inspired by local wildflowers and Cameron Park. The third globe Eyring made was “Taking Off,” which was inspired by Waco’s impact on the transportation industry.

“Waco has really kind of been on the forefront of transportation,” Eyring said. “There was an aircraft base that was here — an army base — so I represented one of the bomber planes and the propellers from that plane.”

Eyring and La Valleur-Purvis worked collectively in creating the globes, averaging around 150 hours of work per globe. The creation process was similar between the artists, as both drew inspiration from the history and notable culture of Waco.

La Valleur-Purvis wanted to represent unity and the power of community for “Lines of Diversity.”

“We all have this individual and unique gift and expression, and when we come together and support each other, we create a pattern,” La Valleur-Purvis said. “I use geometric shapes to represent that story in ‘Lines of Diversity.'”

“‘Beautiful Habitat’ depicts, in very abstract form, the two rivers and wildlife that lives around it,” La Valleur-Purvis said. “So there’s the turtles that you see whenever you walk by the river, sitting on a log, and some very specific fish, like an alligator gar and a catfish and then some generic kind of fish with a lot of movement in that piece.”

La Valleur-Purvis took inspiration from the beverage industry in Waco to create “Pop Culture.” She found an original bottle of Dr Pepper and used the shape of the bottle as her blueprint for the designs on the globe.

“I took that bottle shape and produced a digital rendering of it that then we could feed into our plasma CNC machine that cut out the bottle shapes for me,” La Valleur-Purvis said. “And so with about 200 of them, I created this pattern of overlapping bottle shapes.”

Eyring and La Valleur-Purvis used a form of galvanized steel to bring their creations to life and then painted the steel to prevent it from rusting. The bases weigh around 50 pounds, and the globes are close to 100 pounds.

Eyring mentioned that difficulties arose when creating designs that would incorporate well into the steel. Because of the globes’ shape, they had to use a material that was pliable yet strong.

“So the challenge with the material was actually the fact that it needed to be pretty,” Eyring said. “We had to had to design around a sphere. So anything that we were going to be putting on the structure needed to be able to kind of fold around the circle.”

Jimmy Dorrell, pastor of Church Under The Bridge — a multicultural church that holds services beneath the overpass at I-35 by 5th and 6th Streets — spoke on the importance of art around Waco and what it has done for the members of the church.

“Last October, we came back, they finished the bridges — which we love — and they’re beautiful,” Dorrell said. “They wanted to make it nice because in the city of Waco, there’s this kind of this geographic divide.”

Eyring and La Valleur-Purvis set out to keep the community in mind for their project by creating inclusive and historical pieces. Through extensive research, they included multiple essential aspects of the Waco community, like Church Under the Bridge.

“It was a very meaningful kind of addition to their space,” La Valleur-Purvis said. “Because, you know, meeting in an open area that is fairly raw is not visually interesting. I think it just shows that people care about them and that the city cares that they’re making an effort and investing into the space physically.”