What It Was

Commissioned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Sook Jin Jo’s sculpture/ installation “Wishing Bells/ To Protect & To Serve” was designed for the Public Plaza Entrance of the LA Metro Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Honoring Buddhist heritage in Japan, where bells in Buddhist temples are rung 108 times to herald the passing of the old year, Jo’s installation is composed of 108 bronze bells and nine 13-foot cedar columns sited where people can walk amongst the columns and hear the bells ring in the wind. Each element has significance, in particular the nine columns; they represent the five police commissioners, and the four star insignia of the chief of police, as well as Oriental spirituality in which nine is a sacred number that represents cosmic harmony. Combined with a plaza surface representing the movement of water, the artwork evokes the essence of a Zen Garden.

What We Did

Our lighting was designed to illuminate and enhance the appearance of Sook Jin Jo’s sculpture without drawing undue attention to the lighting itself. Venerating the inherent simplicity of “Wishing Bells”, the lighting brings out color from the metalwork of the bells causing them to become the same silver as the trellis that supports them. In the words of Sook Jin Jo, “it’s quite magical.”

Why It Worked

Drawing on the spirit of “Wishing Bells/ To Protect & To Serve,” we found a balance between design and art, which rendered the mood of inner harmony that is vital to Sook Jin Jo’s artistic intention. In so doing, we contributed to the success of the installation as a public space of peace and meditation.