Not all art can be climbed on, danced on, raced across–fully inhabited the way Jen Lewin’s “The Pool” can. As an estimated 3,000 Chattanooga residents experienced firsthand during that magical week in April, this piece is a living sculpture, inviting play between all types of neighbors.
The fact that the installation was set up away from a central, more developed city plaza encouraged the colorful discs to serve as a temporary stage, playground, and dance floor where all were welcome. Kids from Hardy Elementary in the East Chattanooga neighborhood where The Pool was first installed, as part of the East Chatt Highlight Festival, had an inside track to directly selecting the programmed color patterns. They got to ask questions of Julie Miller, Jen Lewin’s Creative Manager (Jen sustained a foot injury that, unfortunately, caused her to miss the trip to Chattanooga), and test out the pucks functions before they were installed out on site at 1900 Roanoke Ave., just 3 blocks down the street from their school.
Julie’s eyes were wide during the opening night of the festival. “I’ve never seen anything like this.” She told me. “I’ve been traveling with this installation for years, but never do we find this kind of mix. I thought I’d be used to it in New York, but it’s so sad and surprising how everyone can so easily wall themselves off. This is a kind of approach that’s completely new and exciting to me.”
The 40,000 LED bulbs within the 106 pucks of the installation create a bright, enchanted atmosphere as attendees danced with friends, old and new. Following Lululemon ambassador, Becky Byrns’ yoga movements all together that first night of the festival it was hard to feel self-conscious. Whether or not the person on the disc next to you was a total stranger, the common sense or wonder was powerful and unifying.
Dawn Hjelseth, Director of Development and East Chattanooga Empower Outreach Coordinator (an energy conservation and savings education program run through green|spaces), wanted to take on the challenge of setting up the sculpture, right off the bat, at the site with the least amenities (no lighting or power that wasn’t transported in), and at a neighborhood site unfamiliar to many Chattanooga residents. “We agree with what Glass House Collective consistently advocates for: there are many types of families who call these neighborhoods home, and the opportunity to engage with one another through beauty and art and music should be available to everyone.”
We applaud the whole Empower team for their sustained energy in seeing this installation successfully shared across three neighborhood sites over the course of a week. Despite some rough weather-delays, the colorful lights were enjoyed by an estimated 700 attendees to the launch site here in East Chattanooga. We are very proud to have partnered with Empower, Public Art Chattanooga, and Lyndhurst Foundation to bring Lewin’s installation to our city’s neighborhoods.
For a complete list of sponsors, click HERE.