MSU architecture students participate in Mississippi Light Festival

February 26th, 2017 Comments Off on MSU architecture students participate in Mississippi Light Festival

via clarionledger.com

By | Jacob Threadgill | The Clarion Ledger.com

Mississippi State University student Zac White began his involvement with the first-ever Mississippi Light Festival with the idea that it would be a nice line on his resumé.

He quickly found the festival’s mission, to combine science and art to inspire a new generation of Mississippians, making its impact on his own life.

Working in collaboration with England-based artist Polly Lane, White has created a pair of installations that will be among many to light up downtown Jackson Friday for the European-style light festival, a free event that’s open to all.

“It’s about using light as an embodiment of life that a city should have,” White said from Jackson’s College of Architecture, where he is a fifth-year MSU student. “With all of the aspects of light that I’ve learned, it’s one aspect of architecture that fades into the background, especially here in Jackson, where everyone vacates at night.”

Using inspiration from Enlightenment thinkers Thomas Newton and Johann Goethe, combined with artists Christian Marclay and James Turrell — and through guidance from Lane — White has created a pair of installations that will be on display in the Arts Center of Mississippi, located next to the Mississippi Museum of Art.

White’s largest installation uses reclaimed florescent lights to create a finished product inspired by Andy Warhol.

White is among six fifth-year architecture students participating in the light festival, which will also feature the work of 14 local and international artists, including Jackson native Josh Hailey and a permanent installation from Christopher Rees and Michael Roy, better known as Ninjacat & Birdcap.

The Mississippi Museum of Art will serve as the anchor for the festival, with surrounding buildings, including the Jackson Convention Complex and Thalia Mara Hall, featuring interactive installations that will run on a loop from 6 to 11 p.m.

From 6 to 8 p.m., a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) lab will be held in the Arts Center. The Mississippi Light Collaborative is raising money to promote STEM education throughout the state through different initiatives between now and next year’s light festival.

“If you go to the (Canton) Nissan plant, it’s all robots,” said Mississippi Light Collaborative director Anik Kurkjian. “It’s the problem solvers and true creatives, both engineers and designers, where the true healthy workforce lies.”

Kurkjian said the collaborative hosted an open house for volunteers over the weekend and was excited to meet an 8-year-old who discovered a passion for origami, which the group is connecting to light and electricity.

It’s a moment that Kurkjian hopes is repeated Friday and beyond. The Light Collaborative plans to create permanent light installations around Jackson over the next year in poorly lit areas that she said are viewed as “dangerous.”

“(We) want to facilitate the concept, talk to the community and help them design (an installation) that will make them feel better, feel proud,” Kurkjian said.

Jackson resident William Dalton makes his money in the information technology field, but his real passion is working with electronics.

“I’ve had a soldering iron in my hand since I was 6,” Dalton said.

He got involved with the Light Festival in recent weeks by volunteering his expertise with architectural students, including White. Dalton said working with the festival has been an inspiration for him, but he’s excited for what it will mean for the youngest generation.

“If you’re thinking out of the box and you’re 8 years old, you’ve (got) an engineer at a young age,” Dalton said. “The festival will help to incorporate and teach kids, which is building engineers in a state that can really use them.”

 

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