Creating Waves: Process

When Collier creates a new water surface she starts with a brush that she builds with software. This brush is essentially a model of wind because wind is the source of waves in the scale of her surfaces. She says "I think about what wind is: the movement of warmer air rushing chaotically towards cold. The motion never stops, so the wind of today has in it ancient turbulence."

Even though Collier does not use specific water references, she does seek to make the surfaces physically accurate, so given the laws of chance, she says, "they actually could have occurred somewhere, a million years ago or yesterday."

Adding Sound

Often Collier will also mix in information from other rhythmic sources: collected sounds, pulse, breath and dance music.

In her latest work, GRAND, A Portrait of the Grand River after Midnight, she collected sounds throughout the Grand Rapids, MI area and used software to extract their patterns. She said "Sound waves in the range we can hear have a physical size between about 1 inch to up to 50 feet. These are perfect waves to match the size of waves on the water."

"I like to add influences from human sources," she said. "As a child I spent hours staring at the water thinking that it was both ancient and instant. It could absorb anything and contained everything."

When a surface is finished she carves it from an acrylic block using the CNC router in her studio in Sausalito. Finally, she polishes it to optical clarity.


Sophia at computerCollier drawing a map of the wind to build a computer simulationCutting foam modelsMaking test cuts in light weight foamCarving in acrylic using a CNC machine in Collier's studio