NANCY O'NEIL         


Public Art
Glass Blocks

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Intersections (detail)
Dept. of Transportation, Bartow, FL

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Dept. of Transportation, Bartow, FL
Art in State Buildings Program

Bartow is the county seat of Polk County. The area is one of the largest phosphate producing industrial complexes in the world, and is also a leader in citrus, beef, and dairy cattle production. My project, "Intersections", is installed at the District One Headquarters of the Dept. of Transportation.

"Intersections" is installed in the front-facing window of the main lobby. It is viewed from the lobby and from the balcony level as well. The overall dimensions are 6'x18'x 1/2". It was one of my early research-based collages and I consulted with many different kinds of specialists in the Polk County area. For one thing, this area is home to an unusual ecosystem, the Florida scrub, with species of rare and endangered plants and animals. I spent some time exploring the scrub and seeing things first-hand, and I also worked with scientists whose life work is studying the unusual flora and fauna.

My research also led me to a wealth of historic photos, and to materials from early civilizations in this part of Florida. My design includes two columns of photos going back to the late 1800s, from the collections at the Florida State Archives and the Polk County Historical Society. The Seminole designs that form borders are from the mid-19th century, when Seminoles would have been in the Bartow area. The drawings of the engraved antler fragment and the pottery vessel are similar to artifacts found along the Peace River, which used to be called "Peas Creek", named for the wild peas which grew along the bank. (Courtesy of Ryan Wheeler and the Bureau of Archaeological Research)

The central image features a topographic map of the Bartow area. I was intrigued by the shapes of the man-made lakes that are created as part of the mining process. The two side windows (not shown) feature ancient maps of the state of Florida as their central imagery.

The project also includes references to the twelve counties served by this District Office. There are county seals for each county, and ecosystem drawings by Florida artist, Jeff Parker, for the Florida Conservation Foundation. The outermost border contains excerpts from Dust Tracks on a Road by a Polk County native, the African American author Zora Neale Hurston.