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Light River

At Student Health we are honored to have beautiful artwork displayed in our lobby. Ray King’s Light River is part of Iowa State University’s Art on Campus collection and a feature of the Thielen Student Health Center.

Iowa State University is home to one of the largest campus public art programs in the United States.  Over 2,000 works of public art are located across campus in buildings, courtyards, open spaces and offices. More photos of Light River are available on our Pinterest Light River Board.


Light River is a light activated sculpture composed of suspended 1/16-inch stainless steel cables with dichroic glass bars connected at intervals along the cables. Dichroic is a definition for a thin-film coating that has the thickness of one-half of a wavelength of light — thus it reflects one color and transmits its complimentary color.

The overall form of the glass sculpture tapers to link to the  geometry of the entry space and to expose the dichroic glass bars to the sunlight from the three south facing windows. The sunlight will trigger an explosion of reflected colored patterns up and onto the complex geometry of the landing and walls to the north as well as project colored patterns onto the floor and walls in its vicinity.

By the numbers

The piece measures approximately 32 feet long X 4 feet high X 6 feet wide and consists of 272 cable sections that contain 441 dichroic glass bars 10 X 1 1/2 inches. This is a work of art that comes alive in the sunlight and will also become animated with electric lights at night. Light has always represented health, goodness, and purity.

It is my true hope that this project will add to the healing properties of the Student Health Center. – Ray King, creator of Light River


* Information on Light River courtesy of University Museums Art on Campus program