Miller Theatre's Morningside Lights Links Campus and Local Community

Oct. 8, 2012Bookmark and Share
Morningside Lights Parade
Morningside Lights Parade 
Image credit: Shawn Brackbill

Visitors to Morningside Park on the evening of September 29 were treated to a luminous sight. A parade of over 500 people holding 110 handmade lanterns and glowing sculptures lit up the park’s winding paths and Columbia’s Morningside campus. The sculptures were the centerpieces of the first-ever “Morningside Lights,” produced and sponsored by Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller Theatre and The Arts Initiative.

Executive Director Melissa Smey said, "The goal of Morningside Lights was to create a participatory event that would engage people of all ages and backgrounds, from the Columbia community and the larger neighborhood, in creating art,” she said. The sculptures were created over a week-long series of free public workshops held at Miller Theatre, where people were taught to make illuminated sculptures.

The theme for “Morningside Lights: The Imagined City,” was the vision of artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, artistic directors of Processional Arts Workshop, Inc—whose creations lead New York’s Annual Halloween Parade. Kahn and Michahelles assisted more than 241 community volunteers who helped eager sculpture-building students learn how to use different materials—and transform their ideas into physical objects.

Composer and music director Nathan Davis collaborated with Kahn and Michahelles to create an original soundtrack for “Morningside Lights.” To make the piece, Davis worked with both recorded sound and acoustic instruments, some of which were constructed during the workshops.

Smey said, “Local families, Columbia students, Harlem-based artists, Medical Center staff came together to create this project, and through the act of creation we developed an incredible sense of community."

—by Nick Obourn

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