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A swirling wall of patterned discs overlooking the Delaware River reflects the color, translucency, light, and movement of the water outside the Independence Seaport Museum.

KARMAN VORTEX

Independence Seaport Museum Rivers Alive Exhibit

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2019

painted and silk-screened acrylic discs mounted on acrylic sheets

7 feet tall by 30 feet wide

With Victoria Prizzia of Habithèque Inc.

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Installed in a wall of windows overlooking the Delaware River, Karman Vortex reflects the water's hydrological patterns. Hundreds of colorful discs give visitors a sense of the movement and beauty flowing just outside the museum. But the artwork’s swirling pattern is not just an allusion to watery movement; rather, it creates a repeating pattern of swirling vortices, what is known in fluid dynamics as a Kármán vortex street. This very pattern is occurring in the river whenever the water hits an obstruction, from a boat's bow to a bridge pier.

Each disc is hand-painted and unique. Laying out the discs in studio involved many considerations of color, size, and pattern.

This project is part of an installation titled Rivers Alive at the Independence Seaport Museum that submerges visitors in an underwater experience of the Delaware River. The installation consists of two parts—Karman Vortex and Fisharium Glass—illustrating the macro- and micro-levels of aquatic life in this body of water. Through color, translucency, light, and movement, the artworks capture the beauty of this diverse riverine cast of characters and the water body they live in.