Public art in scientific crime detection lab is honored

Posted on July 11, 2013 

Snow Words by Cecil Balmond




State of Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory Public Artwork Recognized as One of the Nation’s Top 50 Public Art Projects by Americans for the Arts


Snow Words, a public artwork commissioned by Alaska State Council on the Arts and the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Safety, has been named as one of the 50 best public art projects of 2013 by the Public Art Network Year in Review. A program of Americans for the Arts, the annual Year in Review program recognizes the most exemplary, innovative, permanent or temporary public art works created or debuted in the previous year. The 2013 Year in Review awardees were chosen from more than 350 submissions from across the United States.


Three independent public art experts—John Carson, artist and Head of Carnegie Mellow University School of Fine Art; Norie Sato, artist; and Justine Topfer, Project Manager, San Francisco Arts Commission—juried the 2013 Year in Review. Their selections were announced on June 13, 2013, at the Americans for the Arts convention in Pittsburgh.


Snow Words takes shape in columns of alternation - LED lights power the light bars that are symbolic code for forensic research, investigative tracts, relentless pursuit. The illumination has different speeds, gapped along vertical aluminum bars, also fattening and thinning within individual bar enclosures. Programmed by computer, the bars of light become an endless invention of form and substance, like snow crystals which take infinite shapes. 

Shannon Daut, Executive Director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, noted that “this is the first time an Alaska State Council on the Arts public art commission has received this prestigious award, and we are so pleased to have this important artwork recognized. Cecil Balmond’s creation wonderfully illuminates the purpose of the work undertaken at the Crime Detection Laboratory, while enhancing the vibrancy of this world-class facility.”


Since 2000, the Public Art Network Year in Review has annually recognized outstanding public art projects through an open call submission and juror selection process. The Year in Review program is the only national award that specifically recognizes public art projects. For complete list of selected projects:


Since the Percent for Art law was passed in 1975, Alaska has celebrated artists and benefitted from the cultural, social, and economic value of public art. Public art is a distinguishing part of our history and our evolving culture. It reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities. Public art humanizes the built environment and invigorates public spaces. It provides an intersection between past, present and future, between disciplines, and between ideas. Public art is freely accessible and cities and towns with public art aspire to be places where people want to live and visit.


Snow Words, by Cecil Balmond,, is located in the lobby of the Alaska State Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory at 4805 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Anchorage AK.  The lobby is open to the public 8am-4pm Monday-Friday, except for state holidays. Two other public artworks are also on display at the lab – Fragmenta, an exterior glass and steel sculpture by Osman Akan and Chugach Fantasy, a landscape painting by Bill Brody.  


High resolution images are available on request from Alaska State Council on the Arts.

Photo Credits: Alex Fradkin


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