Catherine Woods – Community DNA

October 8, 2019 | By Amanda Sieradzki

Catherine Woods
Community DNA 

. . . 

Half-moon shields spiral upwards from the corner of 13th Street North and Arlington Avenue. Glass images shimmer in blues, yellows and greens.

Inside each section, St. Petersburg’s famous signage coexists with outlines from the city’s architectural fingerprints — the stairs from the water tower at Crescent Lake, the amoeba-like Dalí Museum, the Sunshine Skyway’s radiating beams, a cropped Sunken Gardens image that says “beautiful sun.”

When the Florida sunlight hits Community DNA at just the right angle, artist Catherine Woods of C Glass Studio says her sculpture becomes a layered patchwork of intricate shadows.

Rendered in laminated, painted architectural glass and stainless steel, Woods created Community DNA for the St. Petersburg police department. The piece was commissioned by The City of St Petersburg, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Woods partnered with General Glass International, Metal Craft Services of Tampa and Luxury Illumination for fabrication of the project.

“The sculpture is an abstracted guardian figure, a protector of the community, designed to represent the heroic dignity of the St. Petersburg Police Department and the department’s commitment to the community,” says Woods.

Woods’ handiwork can be found across the Bay taking the shape of towers, rings, and in-ground pieces like Florida Fauna in Seminole or Kinetic Ring in Tampa. These works can take up to a year from inception to install, and have earned Woods recognition in Sculpture Review and Public Art Review magazines, as well as Tampa Bay Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.

Remnants of past projects surround Woods in her studio. Colored glass samples lean against her windowpanes as ambient light filters inside. Three-dimensional models sit on shelves, while several design drafts take up the remaining wall space.

“I get goosebumps from certain colors,” says Woods, who takes down the 3-D model for Community DNA. She thumbs at the numerous paper drafts like a flipbook, revealing the work’s shifting composition with each new iteration.

The piece contains 31 individual collages, which Woods created digitally before collaborating with the fabricators. She gathered visual inspiration from conversations with neighborhood community members as well as historians at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.

Woods compiled thousands of photographs of downtown and surrounding areas to create the sculpture’s abstract collages — the layered and repeating images taking many long mornings and late nights to complete.

When choosing a palette, Woods sought to complement the blues and whites of the police headquarters. This philosophy permeates her work as she strives to make art that transforms areas into special places. She delights in the mystery of how the public will choose to interact with each work. 

During the installation, Woods heard someone call Community DNA the jewelry of the building, a sentiment that echoes her belief in having art leave spaces better than she found them. Given the importance of community in her body of work, Woods is eager to speak with the public and answer their questions during Second Saturday ArtWalk. 

“This is a ‘walk up and walk around’ sculpture, so there is something new to discover every time you see it,” says Woods. 

Catherine Woods will be sharing her process and thoughts on this latest installation and answering questions on Saturday, October 12 from 5-8 pm during Second Saturday ArtWalk.

St Pete Police Department
1301 1st Ave N
St Petersburg FL 33705
(Just north of the corner of
1st Ave N and 13th St N)


Catherine Woods – Florida Fauna

You can find out more about Catherine Woods’ work at

Listen to Catherine Woods talk about color, light and planning public art projects on the Arts In podcast.

Photos by Catherine Woods

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