N Line artwork at Eastlake•124th Station embraces connections to natural elements
Gracing the pathway that leads from the RTD N Line commuter rail platform at Eastlake•124th Station to the adjacent Park-n-Ride lot are two stunning steel sculptures called the “Muses of Water and Earth.”
Artist Jodie Bliss crafted the recent additions to RTD’s Art-n-Transit program using hand-forged mild steel, a material known for being malleable and easy to weld. As described by Bliss, “The moon and the changing tides, and the sun nurturing the earth, are the main elements in the pieces. They evoke a sense of timelessness in the ebb and flow of the natural elements, as well as a snapshot of our current time, when expanding our awareness of our relationship to our natural world is so important.”
Bliss, who began working with jewelry as an undergraduate student at Western State College in Gunnison, has incorporated metalwork into her art for over 20 years. Feeling restricted by the smaller scale, Bliss found her true craft with blacksmithing and started her business in 2011. After four years of producing smaller sculptural artwork and traveling to art fairs around the country, she transitioned to creating larger scale public art and commissioned architectural work. In 2016, she hired her first employee, and installed her first pieces of permanent public art – two 15-foot-tall steel sculptures. Her business, Bliss Studio Custom Metalwork, has expanded to five employees who assist with a range of custom metalwork from gates, doors, railings and furniture to standalone public art.
For Bliss, the artistic process to create public art begins by connecting with her clients, researching their vision, then creating concepts, sketches and designs that represent the physical marks of the community. From there, she fabricates the work at her studio.
For the Muses of Water and Earth, as she does with most of her public art, Bliss heats the pieces of mild steel, and then they are textured, detailed and shaped. The components are welded for assembly into the finished form, then sandblasted, powder coated and hand painted, resulting in a resilient finish with pops of color.
When asked if she has a vision for how her artwork will affect people who encounter it at the station, Bliss said, “It is my hope that people will be inspired to stop and spend some time looking closer at the pieces as they pass by on their way to and from the trains. I put so many details into my work with the intention of making the experience of the pieces more and more rewarding the longer a viewer looks at them.”
Regarding the benefits of including public art at Eastlake•124th Station, Bliss said, “Placing public art is so incredibly valuable to creating a unique and enriching environment for the people who interact with it. It can add brightness to their day, or a sense of home upon returning from a long day’s work. The figurative nature of the work adds to this; these two strong women imply a gateway, a point of transition that people exiting the train pass through on the way to their homes.”
Since 1994, the mission of RTD's Art-n-Transit program has been to enhance the design, aesthetic quality and user friendliness of transit projects, and to foster transit-oriented community development.
The Art-n-Transit program is based on RTD's belief that public art helps provide a stronger connection between neighborhoods and transit. Installing artwork at transit facilities creates a sense of community and provides opportunities to celebrate the diverse cultural, ethnic and historical richness of the many communities RTD serves. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the entire transit system, public art also helps discourage vandalism and graffiti.