Willa, (Light Ship) 2015-2020

Light, Glass, 1978 Sportscoach RV

26 x 7.5 x 10 feet

Willa (Light Ship) is a Light, Land and Sky Sculpture that will be permanently installed in a remote area of the high desert in Northern New Mexico. Consisting of a chamber of light and glass hidden inside a 1978 Sportscoach Recreational Vehicle and large enough for 4 people to sit inside, Willa is an immersive environment for experiencing the cycles of light and time that exist in nature.

Inside Willa, hundreds of handmade cast glass objects collect light from the sky. The interior changes as light shifts throughout the day, sunrise to sunset, or as clouds pass overhead. There is no electric light in Willa. Light enters through a transparent roof, directly connecting the piece to the sky and its' cycles of day and night, weather, and seasons. Willa is lit solely by the sun and moon.

Willa is built for the slow read, for watching as light slowly shifts in rhythm with the time signature of the natural world. It takes 3 hours to watch the sun go down inside the piece, through all the subtle stages of twilight, and then you wait for the moon to rise and illuminate the chamber. Viewers are invited to spend time inside the piece, especially to watch sunset, sunrise or moonrise on a full moon night. Willa is constantly changing as the sun and moon track across the sky or as weather and seasons change, and may be experienced in many different ways over time.

Long cast the glass for Willa herself in her studio in Taos, New Mexico using the slow and labor intensive process of lost wax casting. Because each mold is destroyed in the firing process, each of the hundreds of glass objects inside Willa is unique, there are no multiples. She builds her "Light Ships" by hand, slowly.  It took 4 years to build Willa.

Long uses glass and this labor intensive process to access light in her work. "Glass catches light in extraordinary ways. It acts a strong collector and amplifier of light, allowing light collection in my work even under low light conditions like twilight and moonlight."

A search is underway for a permanent site to install Willa in a remote area of the New Mexico desert. Visitors will stay overnight in an onsite cabin, allowing access to the piece at sunrise, sunset, or midnight on a full moon night. The journey to reach Willa at this remote site will be an important part of the experience of the work, an invitation to slow down and have an embodied experience of light, land, and sky over time.

The next stage of the Willa Project is fundraising for Land for Willa's permanent home and to build an onsite adobe cabin for visitors.

Photo Liza Bambenek
Photo Liza Bambenek
Photo Liza Bambenek
Photo Nathan Burton