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In mid-April, Thrivent will host a special, one-of-a-kind collection making its first-ever U.S. stop—right at the Thrivent Art Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. Stay tuned for more details on how you can experience this exhibition for yourself.


Sculpture by late renowned artist Richard Hunt featured outside Thrivent's downtown Minneapolis office.
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'Wow, what is that?' One-of-a-kind sculpture sparks curiosity, awe

Installation by Los Angeles-based artist combines science and art to create a visually stunning tapestry of the cosmos.

Portrait of a Southern Sky

At the top of the glass-encased staircase at Thrivent’s Minneapolis Corporate Center hangs a dazzling portrait of the heavens. Its shimmering form draws attention, compelling people to crane their necks for a better look and inviting them to take a seat and stare awhile.

Joe Szurszewski

What is it, exactly?

It’s part of the Thrivent Art Collection: A fabric sculpture created by Benjamin Ball of the Los Angeles-based Ball-Nogues Studio. Called Portrait of a Southern Sky, the installation brings together science and art to depict the cosmos.

Watch the full video above (19 min.) to see how the sculpture was made, or check out the teaser (2 min.) for a quick glimpse into the process.

Half a million adornments added by hand

Early in the creation process, the celestial sky and the idea of guidance became the core design concepts for the sculpture.

Ball initially used NASA star catalogs to gather a dataset of 470 million stars. He then filtered that information down and made artistic decisions to create a visually stunning tapestry, which came together across 24 panels of nylon fabric.

To bring this vision to life, workers at a Los Angeles embroidery shop placed and adhered more than 530,000 aluminum reflectors and cut-glass stones to the panels by hand. Finally, the panels were sewn together by master tailors.

“The design and making of this work of art persevered amidst multiple complex delays and challenges during the pandemic,” said Joanna Reiling Lindell, director and curator of the Thrivent Art Collection. “Its stunning and successful completion are a testament to the collaboration and tenacity of those involved in the project.”

Amazingly, there is no internal structure within the fabric. The form of the sculpture—an inverted dome that’s 17 feet tall and 16 feet wide—is achieved by gravity and expert tailoring. The final work of art is the result of precise design and the laws of physics.

Ball hopes the installation invokes “a sense of something bigger than ourselves. I'd like people to ask questions about it. I'd like it to spark curiosity,” he said.