Public art installation by Nathan Pratt captures the blinking flash of summertime favorite
Softly blinking fireflies grace the grounds of Myriad Botanical Gardens as part of a metro-wide public art experience celebrating the grand opening of Oklahoma Contemporary. Taking inspiration from the golden flashing light of fireflies on a warm summer night, Oklahoma artist Nathan Pratt has created more than two dozen mixed media fireflies currently installed in the Meinders Garden.
The installation taps into the innocence of childhood where the golden haze of a setting sun plays with the enchanting glow of fireflies. It is part of Bright Golden Haze: Reflections, a partnership with Oklahoma Contemporary and funded by a series of grants from Kirkpatrick Family Fund to extend the theme of light from the art center’s inaugural exhibition, Bright Golden Haze.
Pratt has created hundreds of sculptures in numerous mediums during his career. For the Gardens fireflies, he assembled concentric metal tubes that were cut in varying lengths to resemble the gradient shape of the bug. The tail containing a lightbulb is acrylic. There are two sets of wings. One is water jet cut and the other solid metal, hammered into a curve to cover up the inner wing.
A remote control will program the pulsating and intermittent flickers of the tails. Mounts will fit seamlessly into existing foliage in the Gardens and look as natural as their surroundings.
“There is a storybook aesthetic to these fireflies,” Pratt said. “The whimsical rendition communicates the idea of carefree characters that would be just as at home in a Pixar film as they would be in a wooded area.”
Born into a family of artists, Nathan Pratt started making and selling small ceramic sculptures at 10. Over the course of 30 years, he has produced hundreds of sculptures in a variety of mediums including acrylic, aluminum, and bronze, ceramic, concrete, fabric, foam, glass, ice, LED lights, paper, and steel, stone and wood. His continual experimentation with new materials led him into the intersecting spheres of art, engineering, invention, prototyping, fabrication and diverse manufacturing processes.
After obtaining a marketing degree from the University of Oklahoma, Pratt briefly spent time as an agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. He is a prolific inventor and for the last two years has been working to commercialize a product line of tape dispensing tools for artists, painters and crafters.
For several years he has worked as a teacher, mentor and administrator in visual arts after-school programs for inner city youth. Collaborating with his students, Pratt has produced numerous public art exhibits for the Gardens, including the firefly exhibit. As a recent graduate of a city-wide leadership program, he is passionate about public art that strengthens the community and ignites economic development.