Art Series: Cool Globes (#5) – Cities Light Up

ArtStyle has been presenting a weekly art series throughout the summer on the participating Cool Globe Exhibit artists. In this last segment, we feature Matt Federico’s Lights without Limits.

Matt Federico

Background: BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Teacher at The Chicago Mosaic School (2 years). Company owner of Sublime Surfaces, custom mosaics. Website:

Matt Federico
Lights without Limits. Located near the Roosevelt under pass (bike path) just north of the Field Museum. Globe #56. Sponsor: Rosenthal Manufacturing.

Theme and Description: Lights without Limits is a fully-functioning solar-powered globe that lights up at night with hundreds of LEDs plotting the brightest cities over the world. The globe is covered with 33,000 pieces of glass mosaic, depicting the regions of the earth from the deserts of the Sahara to ice-covered Antarctica.

Method and Medium: I mapped out the earth and decided where the brightest cities were and put in dots to be drilled later. Then I estimated how much tile I needed to order for 4 different blues for the water, 5 different tans/browns for the sands of the deserts to the dark brown wooded areas, and 5 different greens for the trees, leaves, and lush vegetation. I cut an access panel to get to the inside of the globe (there's a lot of work that went inside). Then I did some tests with different types of glue that would hold up to the Chicago weather. I unbolted my globe and put the base up on a table, so I could work on the bottom without lying on my back for hours. Piece by piece the globe started coming together. I drilled out the holes for the LEDs, climbed inside the globe, wired all the LEDs, and glued them in and hooked them up. I made a bracket for the solar panel that fit on top of the globe. I finished by putting the tiles in and grouted the whole globe. Finally, I hooked up the battery and the timer, shut the access panel, and sealed up my globe.

Thank you to everyone who helped me on this project!

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