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120 Degree Arc East-Southeast

Arts, Lifestyle, Miami

Faena Art invited guests to explore perceptions of light, color and space through Phillip K Smith III’s oceanfront installation, "120 Degree Arc East-Southeast" at Faena throughout Miami Art Week 2017.

Unifying a large swath of Faena’s beachfront is artist Phillip K. Smith III’s 120 Degree Arc East-Southeast, a new iteration of the work he created earlier this year at Desert X in the Coachella Valley.


What was once a sacred circle in the desert of California is here converted into an arc that seems to hold the sea, a mirrored cove that opens up towards the Caribbean. The work creates a reflective space within the beach environment—the mirrored steel structural elements disappear and meld into the pure elements of water and sky.

The artwork directly engages with the ocean surrounding and the endless heavens above. As the light shifts over the course of the day and the viewer moves through the installation, land, water and sky are separated, merged, and displaced, sub- verting one’s assumed relationship with the horizon and natural boundaries. It is a constantly morphing installation that can never be seen the same way twice.

I’m interested in an idea of universal beauty,” Smith III says. “Of something that, like the sunset or the clouds, forces all of us as human beings to stop…

Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, Smith III rose to international acclaim in late 2013 after his Joshua Tree light installation, “Lucid Stead,” dazzled viewers across the world. Mirrors on a homestead shack reflected the desert landscape by day and radiated his now patented color-sequencing program by night.

“I’m interested in an idea of universal beauty,” Smith III says. “Of something that, like the sunset or the clouds, forces all of us as human beings to stop, no matter what our background is, no matter where we are—that experience of being on the edge of the Grand Canyon or seeing that ray of light coming through the clouds… I think that the art world is a bit leery of the word ‘beauty’ because, how can beauty be universal? It’s so much in the eye of the beholder. But I would argue that it’s not. I think there’s actually something that can be tapped into, that rises above all of that, that is a universal sense of beauty and sense of awe that makes us all want to stop and look.”



Phillip K. Smith III received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, after growing up in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. From his Palm Desert studio, he creates light-based work that draws upon ideas of space, form, light, environment, and change. Featured in hundreds of online and print publications, he is known for creating large-scaled temporary installations such as Lucid Stead, Reflection Field and Portals at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, ¼ Mile Arc in Laguna Beach, and The Circle of Land and Sky at this year’s inaugural Desert X exhibition. All of these installations are featured in his recently released catalog titled “Five Installations” published by Grand Central Press. His public artworks are sited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kansas City, Nashville, Oklahoma City and beyond. The artist was recently commissioned to create permanent, light-based works for the cities of West Hollywood, California and Bellevue, Washington.