The Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre Present MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS: ODYSSEUS ON THE A TRAIN, 9/20-26

The Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre Present MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS: ODYSSEUS ON THE A TRAIN, 9/20-26

The 3rd annual MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS: ODYSSEUS ON THE A TRAIN,presented by The Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University, kicks off on Saturday, September 20. Free lantern-making workshops, open to all, will be hosted daily at Miller Theatre from September 20 - 26. The week culminates in an illuminated parade of community creations that will light up Morningside Park onSaturday, September 27. All are welcome to participate; information and sign-up are

Over the course of the week, visiting artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles ofProcessional Arts Workshop will help community members to imagine and design vibrant lanterns inspired by Harlem artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), whose work is the focus of a campus-wide celebration at Columbia this year. Kahn and Michahelles will also facilitate the production of the fleet of 100+ illuminated objects by teaching participants the artistic fabrication techniques needed to bring their ideas to life. They will draw inspiration from Bearden's own process, using the artist's layered decoupage of color to infuse ancient iconography with a modernist edge.

"In Odysseus's fateful voyage home, Bearden saw the aspirations of African-Americans to establish a sense of home amidst displacement and discrimination," say Kahn and Michahelles. "Participants will delve into Homeric archetypes - gods and monsters, heroes and nemeses - to find parallels in their own contemporary urban ethos, finding Home, as Bearden did, through the lens of Homer."

At week's end, participants will join together to showcase their final creations, accompanied by a participatory score by Nathan Davis that will give music lovers of all abilities the chance to build and play hand-made instruments.

Morningside Lights is produced in collaboration with the Friends of Morningside Park and their annual Common Ground festival, which takes place during the day onSeptember 27. The festival fills Morningside Park with performances and art-making, including a hands-on craft table dedicated to creating lanterns for that evening'sMorningside Lights procession - the culmination of a day of celebration.

Embarking from Morningside Park and concluding its journey on the Columbia campus,Morningside Lights: Odysseus on the A Train also acts as a prelude to the November 15opening of Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey at Columbia's Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, an exhibition of the artist's 1977 collage series. A series of related talks, performances, and events designed for both a campus and community audience will be presented over the course of the 2014 - 2015 academic year.

Click here to view photos of Morningside Lights 2013.

From Saturday, September 20 through Friday, September 26, daily lantern-building workshops will take place at Miller Theatre, Broadway and 116th Street.

Workshops are free and open to participants of all backgrounds and abilities. Activities are geared toward teens and adults, but children ages 8 and up are welcome with adult supervision. Participants are invited to put their creative skills to use while building illuminated lanterns and fantastical sculptures.

On Saturday, September 20 and Sunday, September 21, workshops will run fromnoon to 6 p.m. During the week, workshops will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday andThursday.

Those interested in taking part can visit for more information and to sign up for the build, the procession, or both.

Click here to watch a video of the lantern-building process.

Processional Arts Workshop

PAW's Sophia Michahelles and Alex Kahn at Morningside Lights 2012, Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Processional Arts Workshop (PAW), under the direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, creates site-specific parades, processions, and immersive theatre happenings worldwide. Inspired by diverse, global traditions of Carnivalesque street theater, large-scale puppetry, and ritual pageant, PAW uses processional art as means to build and sustain community spirit and awareness, designing original works for established public events and festivals, as well as seeding site-specific pageant traditions in communities where no such events may have existed before. Drawing on regional cultures, history, folklore, ethnicity, and current sociopolitical concerns, PAW engages local residents in every stage of production, empowering them to identify and express the narratives that uniquely define "local" in their own community, against the modern tide of global homogenization.

Nathan Davis

Davis at the 2013 Morningside Lights Procession. Photo by Karli Cadel

Inspired by natural processes, acoustic phenomena, and the abstraction of simple stories, Nathan Davis "writes music that deals deftly and poetically with timbre and sonority" (New York Times). Lincoln Center inaugurated its new Tully Scope Festival in 2011 with the premiere of Nathan's half-hour, site-specific work Bells. He has also received commissions from the Calder String Quartet, Yarn/Wire, TimeTable Percussion, and the Ojai Festival. Nathan's music has been presented across the U.S. and internationally, with NYC performances including at Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, and Roulette. He has received awards from Meet The Composer, Copland Fund, Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, MATA, ASCAP, and ISCM. Recordings of his music include a monograph of his chamber works performed by ICE entitled The Bright and Hollow Sky (one of Time Out New York's top 10 classical albums of 2011), his electroacoustic percussion disc Memory Spaces, and flutist Claire Chase's debut Aliento. Also an active percussionist, Nathan is a core member of ICE and has recorded for Nonesuch, Tzadik, Mode, Kairos, New Albion, Bridge, BMOP, Karnatic Lab, and Cold Blue records.

The Arts Initiative

The Arts Initiative at Columbia University is a pioneering venture to make arts and culture a meaningful part of every Columbian's experience. Founded in 2004, the Arts Initiative's diverse programs encourage students, faculty, and staff to experience the creative life of the campus, engage the cultural riches of New York City and the wider world, and create arts and performance. Under the auspices of the Arts Initiative, Columbia students, faculty, and staff attend cultural events across New York City, benefit from ticket discounts and subsidies, and connect to one another through the Arts Initiative's vibrant programming. At its core, the Arts Initiative creates and facilitates opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchange and is integral to the fabric of campus life. Its programs benefit from engagement with Columbia's world-class faculty, especially those of the School of the Arts, of which it is a part.

Miller Theatre

Miller Theatre at Columbia University is the leading presenter of new music in New York City and one of the most vital forces nationwide for innovative programming. In partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller is dedicated to producing and presenting unique events, with a focus on contemporary and early music, jazz, opera, dance, and multimedia performances. Over the past 25 years, Miller Theatre has helped launch the careers of myriad composers and ensembles, serving as an incubator for emerging artists and a champion of those not yet well known in the United States. A three-time recipient of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, Miller has built a reputation for attracting new and diverse audiences to programs highlighting underrepresented corners of the classical music repertoire.

In June 2011, Miller Theatre produced its first free outdoor performance in Morningside Park, presenting John Luther Adams' Inuksuit performed by 99 percussionists scattered throughout the park. September 2012 marked the first Morningside Lights procession, a widely popular and "eerily beautiful" (Time Out New York) event, now an annual celebration. Other community programs include free early-evening Pop-Up Concerts, "a wonderfully informal way to experience bracing contemporary music" (New York Times).

Photo Credit: Karli Cadel