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First of Five SoMA Light Sculptures Unveiled Tonight

WHO Sculpture, which will be installed temporarily in Mint Plaza

Over the next six months, the area around 5th and Mission Streets will be transformed with five simple words: Who, What, Where, When, Why.  With a combination of light and sculpture, the 5W Project will fill the normally grey and cement areas with illuminated questions.

The first piece—WHO, a 10-foot, 300 pound steel bench—will be unveiled tonight at 6:30 pm at Mint Plaza.

The 5W Project is the brainchild of three women: Its program director, Rebeka Rodriguez of Intersection for the Arts, artist, Ana Teresa Fernandez and designer and architect Johanna Grawunder. We sat down with Fernandez to find out a bit more about the innovative piece:

What was your inspiration and process for creating the WHO sculpture?

The entire process for the 5W project was very collaborative between Johanna Grawunder and myself. I had envisioned a very urban-looking sculpture for WHO. I took inspiration from graffiti block writers, using letters that fill up a space and get revealed by the negative spaces. I did a drawing of those block letters. Johanna had envisioned a table, or a sculpture with a flat-top and open space underneath. I drew the letters and then she took off the bottom part and added these very seductive slits. When the light got added it shown through the slits beautifully revealing the word itself. This sculpture was meant to be functional as well as inspirational: A table, a bench, but also a platform to be used almost like a soapbox, where ideas and words get revealed.

You're best known for your paintings, what was it like to create such a large, public art piece?

This is not my first large public art piece. I erased the border between US and Mexico by painting the 19-foot fence sky blue. This is, however, my first sanctioned public art piece. It was a blast to collaborate with Johanna, who is absolutely a genius in her field. Also having a really cool and important arts nonprofit, Intersection for the Arts, backing you through and through is incredibly helpful. This whole process has been a group effort. It’s the complete opposite of being alone in silence at the studio.

For more information about tonight’s opening and to learn more about the community arts projects that Rodriguez is running based on the 5W’s, click here.