TU artists featured in Light City gallery

By Rebecca Kirkman on October 31, 2019

Brilliant Baltimore unites Light City and the Baltimore Book Festival beginning Nov. 1

Spark Gallery opening in 2018
Artists and guests at the SPARK Gallery reception during the Light City festival in April 2018.

Towson University students and faculty partnered with the University of Maryland Baltimore County to bring back the SPARK Gallery to Brilliant Baltimore, a free, 10-day festival in downtown Baltimore combining Light City and the Baltimore Book Festival. Towson University is a Community Sponsor of Brilliant Baltimore.

Located in The Columbus Center on East Pratt Street, SPARK is an indoor visual art exhibition featuring artworks, including sound art and performance, created by faculty and students from the two schools.

The works range from light projection-based art to work that deals broadly and conceptually with the theme of light.


From Associate Professor Ryan Schmal Murray, “Eyelydian,” is a 360-degree virtual reality video that uses abstraction, animated geometric patterning and photographic images to call to mind the colors, patters and visions seen as light filters through closed eyelids.

With “Pupilation,” Associate Professor Phil Davis combines digital and handmade processes to explore the material qualities of paper, mark making and light.

And a series by Professor Nahid Tootoonchi combines the poetry of 12th-, 13th- and 14th-century Persian poets with 20th-century poet and painter Sohrab Sphere along with Persian letterform calligraphy using bamboo pen and wooden pallets with organic ink.

Featured Towson University faculty:

  • Amanda Burnham
  • Carrie Fucile
  • Jenn Figg
  • Matthew McCormack
  • Ryan Shelley
  • Jenee Mateer
  • Jon Lundak
  • Kyohei Abe
  • Nahid Tootoonchi
  • Phil Davis
  • Ryan Schmal Murray

SPARK also features a schedule of performances, events and interactive activities in the gallery and adjacent lounge through Nov. 10.

On Saturday, Nov. 2, TU museum and art education students with TU Community Art Center Director Stacy Arnold and Art Education Assistant Professor Diane Kathy will lead a family event, Illuminated Storybooks.

Inspired by words and images from children’s futuristic literature, in this workshop participants will use a variety of materials to build illuminated sculptures they can wear. The sculptures will be lit up by integrating small lights or glow sticks into their pieces. Once participants have completed their wearable art, they will have an opportunity to step into a photo booth animated with a variety of multi-colored projections.

Selected list of SPARK events:

Saturday, Nov. 2
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Illuminated Storybooks
Inspired by words and images from children’s literature, participants will use a variety of materials to build illuminated sculptures they can carry or wear.

Monday, Nov. 4 – Sunday, Nov. 10
5 p.m.  10 p.m. Animated Film Screening
View animated short films created by UMBC and Towson University students in the SPARK lounge — an eclectic mix of animated narrative, documentary, music videos, and experimental work pushing the boundaries of art, style and technology.

Wednesday, Nov. 6
6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Gallery Reception
Celebrate an exhibition of light-based artwork created by UMBC and TU arts faculty. During the cocktail hour, guests will have an intimate opportunity to hear from the artists.

Saturday, Nov. 9
8 p.m. The Umbilicus Percussion Ensemble
In a program entitled “Balderdash,” the experimental percussion quartet Umbilicus will perform works by TU faculty member Will Redman and others. 

Sunday, Nov. 10
5:45 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. Breath Art with Shodekeh
Towson University College of Fine Arts & Communication’s first Innovator-in-Residence
will lead an immersive performance experience created from breath, sound and movement. 

View a full list of SPARK events.

The SPARK Gallery is presented by Towson University, UMBC, PNC Bank and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.