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February Blog: Kin-der-gar-ten of Light

Posted by Shirene on February 24, 2017

Image courtesy of Josh Larsen.

Something magical happens when you gaze at fiber optic lighting. It takes you to a different world where life no longer exists in the boring shapes, volumes or shadows we instantly recognize in day-to-day life, but in the form of glowing strings or sticks of light that entrance us and make us actively interpret what’s in front of our eyes.


If you were at this month’s CoCA Lab event in Georgetown, you will likely have had such an out-of-this-world experience! Thanks to talented duo Josh and Liz Larsen of the GlowFi team, fellow artists and art lovers were able to explore Kin-der-gar-ten of Light, an eclectic collection of new and experiential light art. This CoCA UN[contained] exhibit included “side glow fiber optics” that looked a bit like neon, a majestic Throne of Light you could sit on and interactive projection art. The effect of this colorful, flashing haze of lights was amplified by catchy tunes that played from the speakers. If a person stood in the space and closed their eyes, it wouldn’t have been difficult to feel transported to a dance club -- at least, the relaxed version of a dance club where people can have a conversation without having to yell over any loud music. In other words, the exhibit had a very laid-back aura where people could easily enjoy each other’s company while admiring the artwork.


With Kin-der-gar-ten of Light, Josh and Liz Larsen reminded us that not only can light be magical; it can also be just plain fun! From the Throne of Light that allowed people to feel like royalty (without letting the power go to their heads of course!) to the projection that was set up using an Xbox to make people look like colorful, ever-changing blobs, you were able to get in touch with your inner child.


In the same way kids want to watch, see and touch everything, the GlowFi team created an opportunity for us to do the same with their light art collection.

Hear Our Voice

Posted by Shirene on January 26, 2017

By Shirene Soleiman

The conflicts and tension brought on by the 2016 presidential campaign have left many people feeling powerless, especially women. During times like these, creativity is often used as an empowering way to respond to such negativity where the art is an instrument of hope and activism, and CoCA’s February exhibition is an example. Hear Our Voice, on display at the Pioneer Square location February 2-25, 2017, will feature the influential voices of artists from across the U.S. in dedication to the recent Women’s March on Washington.

“We must be indivisible, we must be greater than fear, we must defend dignity, and we must protect each other.” This is the text included in We The People, a campaign produced by The Amplifier Foundation working with artists Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal and Ernesto Yerena. The artwork in the exhibition symbolizes the fact that, in the face of fear, we may choose not to be silenced.

When you look at the art, you will notice right away that they contain such vibrance, presence and sometimes intense juxtapositions whether it’s in the visual components, the text or the two combined. For example, the colors in this We The People piece by Shepard Fairey are recognizably patriotic and yet they are so bright and intense that the red, white and blue have an entirely different personality. Besides accentuating the beauty and strength of the female figure, the image communicates that this is a statement that should never leave one’s mind.


Another example is the below illustration by Brooklyn artist Jennifer Maravillas. Even though it delivers the message more subtly than We The People, the impression left on me was still profound. There is also a large amount of noticeable juxtaposition -- The artwork is mostly taken up by text, yet the words carry a lot of weight: “Our bodies. Our minds. Our power.” Also, the background is a neutral blue and yet it is decorated (again, subtly) by symbols that constantly remind you what the purpose of the entire illustration is. 


The selections made for this exhibition were juried byCarmen Perez and Paola Mendoza from the WMW, Cleo Barnett from The Amplifier Foundation, independent artist Swoon and Jess X. Snow and Favianna Rodriguez fromJustseeds Artists’ Cooperative. The selection process was meant to ensure the art reflected women and the femme expressive people of all backgrounds and residing in the U.S. and yet that it did not require artists to be U.S. citizens.

I cannot wait to see the beautiful unity of creativity, activism and empowered voices to be heard, not silenced, when “Hear Our Voice” opens on February 2, 2017 with a reception from 6-9pm at CoCA in Pioneer Square and look forward to seeing you there.


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