This blog describes the process and inspirations for the creation of Kanika Marshall's mixed media sculptures.


| 17 June, 2014 01:05

Turning sunshine into art

Courtesy Photo. Elk Grove artist Kanika Marshall recently won a Concept Award for and her sculpture, “Energy Meridians,” which shows the relationship between energy from the sun and everyday life.

EG artist wins in SMUD’s first solar power focused art exhibition

By Raina LeGarreta - Lifestyle & Arts Editor

Published: Friday, June 13, 2014 10:40 AM PDT

“SMUD is on the cutting edge of solar power; they’re all about ‘reuse, recycle, renew,’” said Elk Grove artist Kanika Marshall. “I applaud them for spearheading the idea in our area.”

Marshall recently won a Concept Award for her culturally diverse sculpture, “Energy Meridians” at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) first solar art centered exhibition, SOLART. 

The art show and competition was open to artists in the Sacramento area and focused on repurposing solar panels into art.

SMUD pioneered the use of photovoltaic electricity generated from solar energy in the area and is the first in North America to launch the mission.

The community owned, not-for-profit electric service has placed “solar farms” or a patch of solar panels outside of Elk Grove to collect solar energy, and introduced the panels to area schools.

Harriet Eddy Middle School uses the panels for energy on campus.

SMUD has more plans in the works to make use of sustainable energy including using “dairy digester” technology at local dairies to convert manure into energy. 

While the promotion of local artists via organizations such as the electric service is typically unheard of - SMUD is breaking those bureaucratic boundaries to shine light on the artists, and celebrate their clean energy effort. 

“I would love to see other corporate entities embrace the arts,” said Sue Ann Foster, SOLART project manager. “The exhibition is a fresh, unique idea. It was a great experience to see another side of the world that focuses on making things more efficient.”

Foster is an art teacher at California State University, Sacramento who has managed a number of exhibitions in the area.

She is also a member of Valley Sculpture Artists, and has taught aspects of using solar energy to home schooled children in the area. 

“I had no idea what the artist would come up for this project. I was excited to see the many unique submissions,” Foster said. “I just knew that the sculptures would look great standing in SMUD’s atrium.”

Local artists were asked to come up with ideas to project art on solar panels, which they sketched and sent to SMUD.

Twenty-six unique sculptures were then chosen to become a part of the exhibition.

On May 22, distinguished judges presented $6,000 in awards to 13 of the artists who best expressed their talent.

Marshall was awarded $300 for her sculpture. 

“The process was really amazing and very daunting at the same time because the panels are so big. I thought, ‘What can I do with solar panels,’?” the artist said. “It’s important to me to always put some type of diversity in my work, and I wanted to portray humans, animals, and plant’s reactions to the sun. Everything just started to come together.”

Marshall said that her piece shows the relationship between energy from the sun and life.

“Energy from the sun courses through all life. The vertical grid lines on the axially-tilted solar panel may be thought of as the energy meridians used in reflexology, where energy pathways exit or enter the body,” she said. “Flora, fauna, and humanoids are represented in various forms on ceramic plates, masks, and other clay works, as well as in the resined paper. The glass baubles reflect and refract the sun’s energy. Aligning the sculptures along the energy flow of the grid symbolizes the importance of harnessing the sun’s energy for life continuity.”

The SOLART displays will remain at SMUD’s atrium through July 31.

The show is open to the public on weekdays between 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at the SMUD Customer Service Center Lobby, 6301 S St. in Sacramento.