The Order of Spheres

Roberto Juarez
2010; Fabric; Architectural Feature
North Campus; Dome of the Aerospace Engineering Wind Tunnel

Commissioned by the College of Engineering. The mural was painted in October 2010 on the dome of the Aerospace Engineering Wind Tunnel. The wind tunnel was built in 1955 and the dome was covered with fabric and painted white at that time. The artist Roberto Juarez designed a colorful mural that encompasses the entire domed portion of the structure. “College of Engineering officials approached me because they saw wind in my paintings,” the artist says. “And that’s something I’ve always seen in them,” he adds. “That’s one of the ways I know it’s a good painting—if it has wind in it, movement, a life force coming through.” Juarez striped the three-story dome with wide bands of contrasting colors—primary orange and red, milky yellow, sky blue, muddy brown, white and black. According to Juarez, the colors express three of the elements of the universe: earth, water and fire. He overlayed the variegated backdrop with clustered and single hand-drawn circles, some intersecting or bisected. The stripes’ colors fade or change within the circles and at their intersections, creating a sense of depth and motion. These overlapping circles represent velocity and the fourth element: wind. Juarez drew inspiration in part from the stupas of India—sacred mound-shaped structures believed to enlighten those who walk their perimeter. The artwork also echoes pottery. The building has a handmade quality about it that Juarez sought to celebrate. Its plaster finish is rough and its shape imperfect. The glossier stripes accentuate this authenticity.