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Depend du Soleil


Inching 44 feet up the south wall of Academic Building #7 at Florida Gulf Coast University are nine pink-tinged pentagon wall sconces that emulate a molecular chain. Each consists of transparent acrylic panels treated with a dichroic coating that produces subtle and ever-changing puddles of color on the building’s facade that fade or grow in size and intensity as the sun carves its arc across the southwest Florida sky. The sculpture is called Depend du Soleil and it is a reflection of the creative elan of West Palm Beach sculptor Mark Fuller.

The 30 x 30 x 27 inch prismatic sconces (right) are no less colorful after dusk. Completely self-energizing, the sconces’ LED lights come alive at night compliments of a technologically-sophisticated solar ovonic panel and battery that is mounted on top of the canopy overhanging the south entrance to AB#7. The luminaries are attached to the wall via an aluminum baseplate and stainless steel fasteners, and are connected to each other and the solar panel and battery pack by means of 12-volt conduit ensconced in mirror-polished stainless steel tubing.

Depend du Soleil reflects the academic pursuits that take place inside Academic Building #7, namely chemistry and math. The installation is also wholly compatible with AB #7’s high standard of environmental sustainability. Completed on May 31, 2011, Depend du Soleil is part of the Florida Art in Public Buildings program, an initiative started in 1979 pursuant to section 255.043 of the Florida Statutes, which earmarks 0ne-half of one percent of the amount the legislature appropriates for the construction of state buildings for the acquisition of public artworks.


About Mark Fuller

An environmental graphic and industrial designer, Mark Fuller has been creating dynamic site specific sculptural installations for a wide variety of public art programs since 1992. “I specialize in the design and fabrication of contemporary public art installations,” says Mark, “and my work for Art in Public Places programs can be found in all four corners of the country.”

Fuller’s monumental work has been oriented primarily towards creating site-specific sculptural elements that help to establish a strong sense of place. In addition to his public art, his experience as an industrial designer includes urban street furniture such as seating elements, bollards, lighting fixtures, tree grates and telephone kiosks. His Art In Public Places installations have included kinetic constructions, compression-tension cable structures and static free-standing elements.

Fuller’s work is not predictable, nor can it be characterized by a specific look. Rather, it is highly stylized by his research into the unique function, architecture, environmental and cultural aspects that surround each project . As a result, the visual characteristics of Fuller’s installations flex and change with an appropriate sensitivity for the project at hand. His works are site-specific, and typically laced with symbolic or abstract references that link the art solidly to it’s environment.  “My installations are typically colorful, playful, and site specific,” Fuller remarks. The National Endowment For The Arts concurs, calling his work “a good example of what public art can be.”

Fuller is a pioneer in creating installations that utilize cutting edge solar-generated electric power, LED luminaries and recycled glass waste materials. His most recent work, such as Depend du Soleil,  also explores the use of cutting edge high-tech dichroic coatings (see below). With an interest in promoting ‘green,’ low-carbon-footprint ideology, Mark continues to move forward developing appropriate eco-conscious fabrication methods and techniques.


Other Fuller Public Art Installations

While Mark Fuller’s public art pieces have been installed nationwide, Palm Beach Gardens has the most. In furtherance of its motto of “Live, Learn, Work and Play,” Palm Beach Gardens has dedicated 30% of its land to green space, created recreation programs tailored to residents of all ages, and built an award-winning Art in Public Places program that fosters a pro-active business climate that embraces innovation and an intrinsic understanding of the balance between social and economic conditions. That program has commissioned Fuller to create more than two dozen public art installations.

Stack 45 is a work that exemplifies the symbolic imagery typically found in a Fuller public artwork. It is a poignant tribute to urban designer Hank Skokowski, the city planner who designed PGA National, Ballen Isles and Palm Beach Gardens’ Legacy Place, a mixed use center located on PGA Boulevard and A1A that contains 469,000 square feet of retail space. Fuller’s best friend, Hank died tragically in a motorcycle accident in Australia shortly after completing Legacy Place. “Hank was weaned on 45s,” Fuller explains of the piece, whose five black outer semi-circular rings represent vinyl records and whose five colored inner circles symbolize the records’ labels. The piece is located in the center of a traffic circle, “metaphorically, a turntable,” Fuller notes. Fuller included five of each element in his piece to signify that Hank was but 55 when he died. “The semi-circular rings are arced back; a symbolic gesture of arms opened to the heavens.”

One of Fuller’s best known works is Obelisk, a gleaming 36′ foot tall spire on PGA Boulevard at Legacy Place. The piece features a mirror-polished stainless steel skin studded with 89,986 custom-made clear glass marbles that catch, refract and reflect the sunlight. “Stop by in the daylight and it’s a mirror, reflecting the Australian pines across the way, one of the city’s countless pink Mediterranean buildings and the PGA flyover,” writes Florida Weekly‘s Mary Jane Fine. “Stop by at night and the computer mechanism tucked inside performs a six-minute-long light show capable of painting the piece, Mr. Fuller says, with 12 million different colors.”

Just down the road in Delray Beach is a work that bears some resemblance to Depend du Soleil. Its name is Light Swimming (ded. 11-28-2007) and it was crafted for the South County Civic Center as part of Palm Beach County’s Art in Public Places program. Like Depend du Soleil, it is an ever-changing light display on the building’s west and south facades. Light Swimming is a shapeshifter whose colors and shadows transmute with the sun’s position in the sky and the viewer’s perspective as they walk or drive by. Depending on the time of day and sunlight’s intensity, it may bathe the civic center’s exterior walls in brilliant pinks, purples, blues and even hues of green. And like Depend du Soleil, Light Swimming also lights up at night thanks to solar-powered LED lights. Through the addition of dimensional hemispheres, the design further complements the civic center’s diagonal grid.

Fuller also received considerable attention and deserved acclaim for Palm Beach Gardens Fire-Rescue Department 9.11.01 Memorial Plaza, which he designed pro bono around a three story section of steel from the south tower of the World Trade Center that was bent due to the searing heat it was subjected to when the tower came down. The beam, which was located between the 12th and 15th floors of the south tower, is surrounded by benches and glass plaques etched with the names of the almost 3,000 victims of the attacks. “We put it straight up to show Americans are still standing strong,” proclaims Fuller, who was in New York City the day before the attacks. Four Palm Beach Gardens police officers and four Palm Beach Gardens firefighters escorted the flag-draped beam from JFK International Airport in New York to its new home outside the fire station.

Closer to home, Fuller also crafted Cambier’s Quilt, the first public art project at a municipal building under the City of Naples’ public art ordinance. Sponsored by the Public Art Advisory Committee and city council, the installation consists of two structures that are nearly 12 feet tall and weigh 1,300 pounds. They each have 108 dicroic coated panels that pivot with the wind, changing color and reflecting the surroundings as they move. The piece is located at the new city parking garage, across from Cambier Park on Eight Street South, just south of Naples’ fabled Fifth Avenue South.

Depend du Soleil is one of two Mark Fuller works located at Florida Gulf Coast University. The other is titled Whatever You Say, Dear and is installed on the south facade of the Bower School of Music building. The latter piece uses light somewhat differently than Depend du Soleil. There, Fuller fashioned musical notation using powder-coated laser cut aluminum plating. He suspended the staff several inches off the wall so that the duplets, triplets, flats and other musical notes will cast shadows against the building’s facade. Like its mathematical sister, Whatever You Say, Dear displays Fuller’s flair for the fun and whimsical.


A Word About Dichroic Coatings

Dichroic is a term that normally refers to glass that is made with tiny proportions of minutely ground metals (like gold and silver) or oxides (such as titanium, chromium, aluminum, zirconium, magnesium or silica) mixed into the glass. The suspended particles in the glass cause certain wavelengths of light to either pass through or be reflected. This causes an array of color to be displayed which shifts depending on the angle of view and the location of the sun or artificial light source.

The oldest example of dichroic glass is the Lycurgus Cup, a Roman glass cage cup that can be found in the British Museum. The cup appears red when lit from behind and green when lit from in front. As a result of this optical quality, it has been described as the most spectacular glass of the period and is the only complete Roman object made from this type of glass.

Today, dichroic glass is influenced by research carried out by NASA and its contractors, who developed it for use in dichroic filters. Dichroic filters are sometimes called color separation filters because their purpose is to separate incoming visible light into separate colors or into beams of different wavelengths. Dichroic coatings achieve this color or wavelength separation with a much higher degree of accuracy than conventional filters. Applications of dichroic filters or color separation filters include color correction and light balancing, and they are found in architectural, studio and  theatrical lighting, color TV or camcorder cameras, automated color  sorting systems, color enlargers and color projectors.

The filters and coatings are made by vaporizing metals or oxides with an electron beam in a vacuum chamber. The vapor condenses on the surface of the material in the form of uni-axially arranged crystal structures. A protective layer of quartz crystal is also sometimes added. The coating that is created is very similar to a gemstone and, by careful control of thickness, different colors may be obtained.


Fast Facts.

  • Mark Fuller was born in 1953 and has resided since 1988 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Depend du Soleil cost $71,200.
  • The sculpture extends 44 feet up the south facade of FGCU Academic Building #7 and is 23 feet wide.


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