De La Riva: you don’t make something extraordinary without pushing the limits

Arturo De La Riva, in front of the UFM’s monument to liberty

The monument to liberty is at the Liberty Plaza of the Francisco Marroquín University.  Made by the sculptor Arturo De La Riva attracts the attention of locals and strangers, and is one of the favorite photo spots for those who visit the UFM.

What do the flames in the UFMs liberty monument represent?

The sculptures concept is based in the Liberty Plazas logo.  Initially we were looking to make a recognition for those that have made possible the UFM; people who trust 100% in the University and that, in one way or another, collaborate to develop the university.

So, they called me to make a glass plate in recognition to those persons and entities.  When we were here with Ricardo Castillo Arenales, watching the space, I personally sensed that only placing the plates was too conventional and would lessen the sponsors and the plazas relevance.

Ricardo Castillo agreed and told me to develop something special.  They gave me liberty to propose a sculpture.

Several models were made until we concluded that this was optimal.  It was an evolution, from something very basic, to something elaborate like what we have here.

The piece itself is derived from the logo of the Liberty Plaza, as a starting point, then we started doing the elements that represent the University.  The colors are those of the University:  green, yellow, red and blue.  Thats why it has those colors.  And as part of the composition, we added stainless steel; we have double sheets, to make it tri-dimensional.  The shapes are very fluid, with a lot of movement, and in a way, they represent liberty, the metal and glass shapes are totally free.  There are no two pieces alike, they are all different, independent from each other, but together, they hold the concept of freedom.  The materials used are stainless steel, curved, glass with different colors and textures, over a solid base that represents freedoms stability. 

I can imagine the stainless steel technique, but the glass technique, how do you give glass that movement?  Glass has always been considered as a fragile element, right? Something that breaks; people say: dont touch that, it can break easily.

However, during the years we have been working with glass, we have pushed this material to its limit, in a way.  And you dont make something extraordinary without pushing the limits.  In this case its glass, with very big pieces.  They have, in average, 1.20 to 2.60 meters in height, the tallest piece; and to make them we prepared some molds.  We made a mold for each piece; these are hand made molds over which melded glass is poured.  Once the glass has cooled down, that is a process of several days, we take the piece out of the oven, apply a texture so color will adhere, and afterwards we can paint it.

If you look every piece, the textures are all different.  Again, it is like saying that each individual, each person, each society, each country has its own form of expression.  It is like saying that liberty embraces it all, between nations, civilizations and persons, right?

As part of the mounting, illumination was considered very important, so it can be appreciated during the day or night.  We made several tests with different types of illumination and lamps to find the best place and the best lamps.  We were here one night with Ricardo Castillo and the electrical engineer, Rigoberto España, playing with lamps until we found the best place to put them.  That was how we decided how to put the illumination in front and back of the piece, in order to enhance it.

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