Balancing Ground: CCC Winner


Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites, Sarah West


Balancing Ground is a welcoming interactive space that can be activated by 1 or 100 people. It is continually transforming, with complex shadows patterns and colors woven throughout the space from an overhead canopy of prisms. Balancing Ground presents a space for playful participation and quiet, reflective moments. It is a space without walls–open to all–built on a foundation of community voices. If you are willing to listen, Balancing Ground will literally speak to you.


Amanda Lovelee, Balancing Ground, Creative City Challenge from Northern Spark on Vimeo.




Balancing Ground is both a playful space and a vibrant sculpture that can be activated by 1 or 100 people. It will be built on the foundation of community voices talking about balance in life and work. If you are willing to listen, Balancing Ground will literally speak to you.

A skeletal wooden structure houses six rows of five-foot-long pairs of wood benches and six ten-foot-long playground-style teeter-totters. These dynamic see-saws (driven by individual Arduino processors and accelerometers) allow people to play with physical balance and also to hear and to reflect on certain words and phrases that are evocative of balance–audio files are triggered as people go up and down, evoking a dialogue between the two sides. The voices will range from a square dance caller talking about the trust needed between partners on the dance floor, to a horticulturalist describing the stress on apple trees and the sweetness of their fruit when they are out of balance, to a local professor who writes about the ever-changing role of the Mississippi river for Twin Cities residents. It will take a city to build our sculpture. 

Inside the space, specialized directional speakers play longer fragments of conversations and interviews about balance in tight, narrow beams of sound that can only be heard while in specific areas. This provides an intimacy to the act of hearing; one can hear a voice just above a whisper while the sound doesn’t spill out loud into the public space.

The installation gently reacts to the natural light transitions of the day through the lengthening and shortening of the structure’s many shadows, accentuated by the structure’s placement on the plaza. A canopy of prisms and reflective fragments are strung between the rafters casting bits of the rainbow spectrum down to the seating area below. The structure, proportions and fractured light suggest a sacred space deconstructed to its most elemental architectural components. 

As the sun sets, theatrical lights illuminate the structure and the reflective materials of the canopy above, transforming the structure into an enlivened environment and an inverted silhouette of the intricate overhead patterns and shapes.

We hope that our proposal presents a space that has beauty, meaningful interactivity and playful participation. We’re interested in mixing movements that are calm and active and hope that in this space it is possible for people to successfully activate in large groups or as an individual; again calling back to the notion of a community or the sacred spaces of our cities where there is the possibility to have a moment of epiphany, whether the place is full or whether you’re the only one there.

Throughout the summer we plan to regularly activate the space with public events, including first Sundays with the Gorilla Yogis, square dances led by a local caller and band and community sings!

At the conclusion of the summer installation, the materials from the installation will be donated to Habitat for Humanity so that Balancing Ground will give back to the city that supported it.

Team Bios

Congratulations to the Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites, Sarah West team. The public selected Balancing Ground as the winner of the Creative City Challenge. Balancing Ground will launch at 8:30 pm on June 14. Event Details >>>

Amanda Lovelee / Minneapolis, MN / Project Lead, Public Engagement
Amanda Lovelee is the Temporal and Engagment City Artist in Residence for the City of St. Paul. A visual artist whose training is based in photography and video, she creates interactive public art events that explore how and where people connect. Her recent projects have investigated diverse topics such as the lives of beekeepers and ice fishermen, strangers’ love stories, and the sociology of square dancing. She holds a BFA in Photography from the University of Hartford and a MFA in visual studies from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She has shown and performed across the United States and abroad.

Kyle Waites / Minneapolis, MN / Project Lighting Design, Construction Lead
Kyle Waites has a degree in set design. He has worked as a professional set designer, technical director and lighting designer in both theater settings as well as large-scale corporate events. He currently owns and runs his own lighting business in the Twin Cities. Waites strength is creatively taking peoples ideas and translating them into light plots that highlight their strengths. He is a quick problem solver and great crew chief for all scales of projects.

Sarah West / Project Architectural Design
Sarah West is a multi-disciplinary artist, with professional experience in architecture, set design, and gallery and site-specific public art installation projects. She believes each field draws from the same basic ideas of the composition of object, scene/site, and narrative and is particularly drawn to immersive environments that combine story and physical space. Sarah received an MArch from SCI-Arc and a BA (Philosophy) from Carleton College.

Christopher Field / Project Sound / Technology Design
Christopher Field is an interactive new media artist. He is particularly interested in how complex ideas can be expressed through visual and immersive media, and the way that media affects people’s emotions and perceptions. His work often involves the installation of interactive video, sound and web-based technologies in physical space. Christopher received an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design a BA in Media Technology and Art from Denison University. He is an Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Morehead State University.

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