Arapahoe Underpass

Sun Moon Water

by Michelle Sparks (Erie, CO)

light reflections

Inspired by the inherent beauty and access of Boulder Creek, this subtle light installation utilizes the inherent qualities of the creek flow to reflect light patterns onto the ceiling and walls of the underpass.




























Images courtesy of Michelle Sparks and the City of Boulder Office of Arts + Culture

Installed within the underpass of 13th Street and Arapahoe Avenue along the Boulder Creek Path, this light installation seeks to generate naturally occurring, water-based reflections into this manmade underpass. The installation is responsive to the environment, with the run time synched with its natural environment through an astronomical timer. This project was supported by AAA Electric.

Project Background

In 2016, this stretch of the Boulder Creek Path was redesigned to provide a safer, more accessible and less flood prone underpass. This underpass serves as a main connection to the University of Colorado and the heart of downtown Boulder.

Selection Process

In 2017, 181 qualified applications were reviewed by a community selection panel which included arts professionals, artists, community members, and a member of the Arts Commission. Michelle Sparks was one of five artists invited to propose a concept and received unanimous vote.

The panel felt Sparks’ proposal was the most thoughtful and prepared: she addressed the whole creek context including natural environment and users; proposed an innovative approach to what we might expect in an underpass; addressed all acquisition criteria; presented an opportunity to work with local, up-and-coming artists; connected to community; and proposes a meditative, subtle, understated but dynamic artwork that responds to the site.