Tower Santa Maria: A 33-Story Vigil

Sebastian Errazuriz has created a public artwork as a symbol of hope for the trapped Chilean miners.

While being trapped in an elevator for a few hours is enough to send most people into panic, imagine what it must be like for the 33 Chilean miners who’ve been stuck in a collapsed underground mine for months. Without being able to see their families, or even sunlight, morale for this brave group must be at an all time low. It was this idea which recently fueled a 33-story high public art installation Santiago, Chile, in honour of the trapped miners..

Tower Santa Maria consists of 350 plus fluorescent tubes, conspicuously placed inside the windows of one of the city’s tallest buildings. When illuminated, the bulbs form the illusion of an enormous cross of light on the building’s facade. The project, by Chilean-born, New York-based artist Sebastian Errazuriz, was inspired by “a South American tradition of lighting candles to saints in hopes they will look after their loved ones.”

A glimmer of inspiration during this unfathomable tragedy, the building selected by the artist  comes with dark history of it’s own. In 1981, the 12th floor was the site of a large scale fire which killed dozens. Denied both corporate and government funds for the project, Errazuriz turned the project into a DIY affair by enlisting the city’s up-and-coming contemporary art scene, as well as receiving sponsorship from the Santiago-based Departamento 21 gallery.

Sebastian Errazuriz

The Art Newspaper: “Chilean artist creates symbol of hope for trapped miners”

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