LightWorks Illuminates Isla Vista

Light-Based Arts Festival Bonds Community

"HuggaTree," designed by John Lawrence, is one of 14 light-based art pieces lining Isla Vista parks through Saturday night as part of LightWorks Illumination Festival.
Robert Bernstein

The LightWorks Illumination Festival, a public arts event celebrating light and the community, is illuminating Isla Vista’s parks for three consecutive nights.

With the support of UCSB’s Visual and Public Art programs, Santa Barbara County’s arts commission, Isla Vista’s recreation and parks district, and other community partners, fourteen temporary art pieces have been installed for all to observe, interact with, and enjoy from May 19-21.

The mind behind the project is Kim Yasuda, professor of art at UCSB. She envisioned LightWorks as an extension of the 2015 Pardall Tunnel light project organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the Isla Vista tragedy. To continue the remembrance and hope for healing, Yasuda saw an opportunity to deliver UCSB’s talent and resources back to the community.

To remember the 2014 tragedy and to bond I.V. through public art, UCSB art professor Kim Yasuda started LightWorks.
Robert Bernstein

“This is an opportunity to showcase some of our local and California-based artists who utilize light and projection, while also helping our community to imagine what our parks could be like if they were properly lit at night,” Yasuda told the UCSB Current.

Many of the art pieces incorporate audience participation and interaction, such as “HuggaTree” by artist John Lawrence. Illuminated roots emerge from a tree base in Isla Vista’s Perfect Park. When viewers hug the tree, which is embraced by a band of pressure sensors, the roots erupt in undulating rainbow light. “I’m so ecstatic to see how people are interacting with the piece,” Lawrence said while watching students group-hug the tree on Thursday night.

Community members young and old also danced and stomped across the Anisq’Oyo’ Park bridge, where they jubilantly watched their movements light up the bridge’s pillars. Annika Tan, a second-year art major, is part of the team that built the installation, called “Luminaria,” in a physical computing art class.

“When we were given this opportunity, we thought about how dark and unsafe this part of the park felt,” said Tan, “So we decided to work on making the bridge fun and safe to walk through. Hopefully we can make the installation permanent!”

“I want this event to create small bridges between the Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Isla Vista worlds,” said community coordinator, event caterer, and graduating UCSB student Leah Barsher. “There’s such a tight community here with so many dedicated people and students ready and willing to volunteer and create illuminating events like this for everyone to enjoy.”

Rodney Gould of I.V.’s rec and parks district is visibly ecstatic about the artistic and communal use of the public park space. “I think it will be a yearly tradition — that’s our goal!”


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