Associate Professor, Department of Art+Design, Art History, Art Education
Jenn Figg has big ideas. Like 80-feet-wide ideas.
That’s the width of the glass and steel structural chandelier that she, collaborators Matthew McCormack and David Fakunle, and a crew of Towson University students constructed to illuminate the Baltimore Visitor Center during Light City 2016.
The inaugural weeklong festival at the Inner Harbor featured large-scale light installations, music, performances and innovation. What Figg and her team pulled off was all four.
“I love working with Towson students,” says the associate professor. “This was a really good opportunity to get them involved in a big, multifaceted project they could see develop from the ground up.”
Working in the TU art department space and downtown, interns under Figg’s supervision got real-world experience with everything from building 3D-printed, energy harvesting kinetic light drums, to installing the gigantic sculpture — 30 feet above the floor — at the Visitor’s Center. Some even got certified to operate a scissor lift.
Months of work culminated with shows at Light City in which a group of professional performers demonstrated the drums’ capability to produce human-generated light, without batteries or electrical power. Additionally, each beat of the African-inspired rhythm triggered dynamic light shifts throughout the building.
Though the drums are packed away now, the sculpture is a permanent fixture. Students can still visit the harbor at night to enjoy the light’s spectacular dance (now activated by the flip of a switch) they helped to create.
“It was exciting for me to see the students take ownership over the project,” says Figg, “and really have fun with it.”