033021 Betteravia light sculpture

An artist’s rendering of “Valley of Light,” a public art project to be installed at the Betteravia Government Campus in summer 2021, was designed by Hancock College professor of design Nancy Jo Ward. 

A new art installation by Hancock College design professor and artist Nancy Jo Ward is expected to light up the Betteravia Government Center this summer in a whole new way.

"Valley of Lights" was chosen for installation out of several submissions from faculty in the college's Fine Arts Department, and will be installed through a collaboration between the college, the city of Santa Maria, and the Santa Barbara Office of Arts and Culture. 

According to Ward, the installation includes seven metal tree-like structures adorned with different-colored translucent leaves made from solar-powered LED lights, simultaneously emphasizing the surrounding architecture and the community's relationship to the Santa Maria Valley's natural resources.

"The ‘Valley of Light’ installation’s primary focus is to give a visual language that is joyful, accessible and acts as a unifying identity that has the opportunity to change continually throughout the day," Ward said.

Ward graduated from the University of the Arts London and holds a Master of Fine Arts with a distinction in fine art digital degree from Camberwell College of Art. 

Ward's work also was featured in a 2018 exhibit of multimedia paintings titled "Women, Dreams & Conversations" at Hancock's Ann Foxworthy Gallery in Santa Maria.

According to county Arts and Culture Executive Director Sarah York Rubin, the installation will run on renewable energy through a new solar grid at the Betteravia building, a resource that will be expanded to all campus buildings in the coming months.

"The artist has strong connections to the project site through its multiple uses and functions," Rubin said. "From the County Clerk [Office], to Probation Services and County Public Health, the Betteravia government campus is a place where community comes together and where lives change."

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The installation will be the third public art project at the Betteravia campus. Others include Santa Maria-based artist Juan Manuel Perez Salazar's floral steel façade treatment on the Public Health, Probation, and Social Services buildings, and a mural by Los Streetscapers, Rubin said.

As part of the project, students in the Fine Arts Department at Hancock College will develop an engagement guide to the art installations at the Betteravia campus for the public. 

The college's Pacific Conservatory Theatre also will provide programming outreach for the project, Rubin said.

County Art Commission Chair and Santa Maria Recreation Services Director Dennis Smitherman, who will serve as the local project representative, applauded the project's beautiful design through the responsible use of solar energy.

“Valley of Light” will be located adjacent to the Probation building at the corner of South Miller Street and Betteravia Road. A virtual ribbon-cutting will be held following its installation, according to Rubin. 

The Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Administration Building is located at 511 Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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