Born in Connecticut, Kahn majored in botany and environmental science at the University of Connecticut where he received a BA in Environmental Sciences, before working at the Exploratorium from 1982 until 1996. Physicist Frank Oppenheimer, the museum’s brilliant and eccentric founder (and the younger brother of J. Robert Oppenheimer), became his mentor. Kahn has received numerous awards for his work. He won a MacArthur Foundation genius grant fellowship in 2003, and the National Design Award for environmental design in 2005. Kahn’s public art commissions span the globe. Locally his work can be seen in Santa Rosa on the side of the old AT & T building, the h2hotel in Healdsburg and the Student Union at Santa Rosa Junior College.
The confluence of science and art has fascinated me throughout my career. For the last 20 years, I have developed a body of work inspired by atmospheric physics, geology, astronomy and fluid motion. I strive to create artworks that enable viewers to observe and interact with natural processes. I am less interested in creating an alternative reality than I am in capturing, through my art, the mysteriousness of the world around us.
My artworks frequently incorporate flowing water, fog, sand and light to create complex and continually changing systems. Many of these works can be seen as “observatories” in that they frame and enhance our perception of natural phenomena. I am intrigued with the way patterns can emerge when things flow. These patterns are not static objects, they are patterns of behavior – recurring themes in nature.
Wind Fence is activated by the breezes that blow through the Paradise Ridge Winery meadow.