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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Glowland lighting festival illuminates Oakland for the holidays

The+Glowland+letters+in+Schenley+Plaza.
Kelechi Anchua | Staff Photographer
The “Glowland” letters in Schenley Plaza.

Oakland has a new name for the holiday season — Glowland. From Nov. 20 to Jan. 2, the holiday lighting festival decorates two square miles of the neighborhood for its second year. This year’s exhibition includes four local and international artists, including two Pitt studio arts alumni, who illuminated Schenley Plaza, the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, Dippy the Dinosaur at the Carnegie Library and a stretch of Fifth Avenue with strings and panes of holiday lights. 

The concept of Glowland came into view for the Oakland Business Improvement District –– the governmental group behind Glowland –– in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Mollie Crowe, communications and marketing manager for OBID, said she was interested in how Glowland could serve the Oakland community while showing off Oakland on the world stage. 

“[Lighting festivals are] something that happens all over the world. It is popular in France, Australia, Germany and [with] our neighbors in Canada as well,” Crowe said. 

Crowe said with the days getting darker earlier in the evenings, creating a light show was a research-supported way to liven up the surrounding communities. 

“[Researchers] found that, throughout the winter months [when] it gets darker earlier in the day, having these light activations was proven to benefit people’s mental health and just lift those spirits,” Crowe said. 

Crowe said all of the light installations in Glowland are a gift to Oakland residents.

“The whole purpose of Glowland was to enliven Oakland and give our residents and our neighbors a space during the winter months where they can convene, play, explore … just so the residents have something to look forward to,” Crowe said. 

Glowland’s four different artists have taken over some of Oakland’s busiest areas. In Schenley Plaza, there are three vinyl spheres, ranging from eight to 15 feet in diameter. The interactive artworks — which the artistic team Lucion Media designed — project viewers’ faces onto the spheres, making their portrait the centerpiece of the lawn.

At the Pittsburgh Athletic Association building on Fifth Avenue and the former Kings Court Theater on Forbes Avenue, the artwork of Pitt alum Ian Brill is on display. His multisensory artworks have taken over the windows of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, mixing bright blues and deep magentas, offering a contrast to the white building. Brill said he hoped to wow the viewer. 

“For me, it is more about creating an experience than anything,” Brill said. “I am also very much driven by my own personalized creative language.” 

Brill combines aesthetic beauty and intricate technology in his art. He said he’s not afraid of mixing the two.

“The world around us is very intuitive, but also extremely scientific,” Brill said. “A lot of people who do some stuff in the realm of what I do might consider themselves more as light designers or even VJs or architectural lighting engineers. I’m an artist.” 

Naomi Chambers, a Pitt alum and former Pitt News cartoonist, designed Love Glow, three bright lilac and pink hearts on Fifth Avenue, in collaboration with the local service contractor Lighthouse Electric. Chambers said her artwork helped her express her love for Oakland. 

“Art is my life for me,” Chambers said. “It is how I express my love for my fellow humans.” 

Chambers sketched the design, and her collaborators at Lighthouse Electric, who donated electric pipes, supported her with the setup. Chambers, a painter and assemblage sculptor, said Glowland allowed her to explore newer mediums in her art. 

“Getting the opportunity to create a light structure in Oakland is just an example of the opportunities that come that are very intriguing, and allow me to [put] my work into different forms and learn new things,” Chambers said. 

Crowe said Glowland is artwork made by Oakland, for Oakland. 

“[We want the audience to think,] ‘Look at what my city is doing, look at what they’re doing in my backyard,’ and I feel like there is a sense of pride that comes from being part of Oakland,” Crowe said.

About the Contributor
Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer
Irene Sofía Castillo Maldonado is a junior history of art and architecture major with a museum studies minor and a Latin American studies certificate. She was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so you might see her long Spanish sentences slip through in her exhibition reviews. Aside from The Pitt News, she’s a researcher for anti-colonial practices in museums and art, as well as a firm coffee shop critic –– cortados are her favorite.