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236 Trees Comprise Denver's Monumental Airport Sculpture

Patrick Marold’s newest work plays with light, scale, and over one thousand tons of wood.
Patrick Marold, Shadow Array (2015), All photos courtesy of the artist

The Denver International Airport may be a hot topic among conspiracy theorists (seriously, Google it), but for the non-paranoid traveler, it's better known for its art. The newest work has been installed for months already, but it’s just now opening to the public: Patrick Marold’s Shadow Array, a 7-acre sculpture made of wooden logs and steel, that uses the site’s natural light to create an immersive experience.


Commissioned by the airport’s Hotel & Transit Center to complement the new commuter train, which runs to the airport from downtown Denver, passengers on the train are enveloped by the sculpture as they pull into the station at the airport’s south terminal.

“The placement of the timbers on mirroring hillsides ruminatively activates the valley with contour and shadow during the day and with transitioning, rhythmic illumination throughout the course of the night, mimicking tidal shifts," its creators write. "The rhythmic illumination is created by a sophisticated, artist-designed lighting component that also abstractly relates the trains' schedule patterns.”

The piece is made of 236 beetle-killed spruce trees from the Rio Grande National Forest in Southwestern Colorado. The trees were killed by the bugs, and then taken from the forest to be repurposed into art, decreasing the chance of them starting a forest fire or spreading more beetle infestations.

From the perspective of a room in the other new addition to the airport, a new hotel in the shape of a bird taking flight, the sculpture appears almost human-scale. But standing on the platform or approaching it on a train, Shadow Array takes on a different life, dwarfing the viewer.

Find out more about Marold’s work on his website.


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