Morningside Lights is an annual outdoor procession featuring dozens of lanterns built by volunteers from the Columbia University and surrounding neighborhoods during a week of free public workshops. Students, families, and members of the community are all welcome to attend the workshops and procession.
Last year, this beloved event went virtual due to COVID-19. This, their 11th year, Morningside Lights is back with in-person workshops and procession! Save the dates, September 17 through 23rd, with the Procession on September 24th at 8:00pm.
A co-production of Columbia University’s Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre, Morningside Lights is conceived of and directed by Processional Arts Workshop (PAW) under the direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles.
This year’s theme ~ The Reimagined Monument. Taken from the artists statement, Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, Processional Arts Workshop:
“At long last, Morningside Lights returns to the pathways of Morningside Park, rekindling an 11-year community tradition of shaping our stories in light. Looking back on all that has happened since we last walked together has made us wonder about how our culture constructs and contains collective memory in public space – how we memorialize. The Reimagined Monument is a timely invitation to our community of makers to rethink the convention of public statuary, creating their own monuments to speak to our current moment, our shared past, and our hopes for the future.
New York boasts an astounding 800 permanent monuments, each with a story to tell. Yet until recently many people experienced monuments as ubiquitous, easily-overlooked ornaments of the urban landscape, rather than as vessels for historical memory. Others feel an acute disconnect from the people and histories the monuments enshrine. However, some of that is changing as public conversations have begun to question and re-evaluate the legacies and assumptions behind the city’s monuments – from Columbus to J Marion Sims to Theodore Roosevelt. Moving away from predominantly white, male military/political figures, new monuments are popping up, honoring pioneering figures like Sojourner Truth, Shirley Chisolm, Billie Holiday, and Marsha P Johnson. These questions have also brought new attention to existing monuments that honor the heroism of “ordinary” people – the kneeling fireman, the garment worker, the immigrant family, the Fearless Girl. Still others honor objects, animals, and icons, or reaffirm the importance of imagination itself – like Alice in Wonderland and Morningside Park’s iconic Bear and Faun.
In this new ethos of questioning, the reimagined monument can become almost anything. In a week of collaborative workshops, we ask our community: “How might a monument transcend the convention of figurative statuary, to highlight untold histories in everyday objects, personal images, and cultural touchstones? How might we put the U and ME back in “monument?” The resulting procession of giant lanterns may not last as long as stone and bronze, but the lingering after-image of our homemade monuments – and the personal stories they tell – will endure as the tradition of Morningside Lights continues.”
In the week leading up to the Morningside Lights illuminated procession, we come together on the stage of Miller Theatre (116th and Broadway) to build dozens of handmade large-scale lanterns, step by step, layer by layer. Discover the steps of the process below, and sign up for a free workshop to join in collaboration.
Sign up for lantern workshops, taking place from September 17 through September 23rd. Workshops are open to everyone from kids 10+ years of age to adults.
Workshop participants learn the artistic techniques of Kahn and Michahelles, bringing a fleet of dozens of illuminated lanterns to life with an evocative theme each year.
Morningside Lights cares about creating a safe workshop experience
Miller Theatre and Arts Initiative will act to protect the health and safety of all personnel by following Columbia University guidance and policies. Masks are strongly recommended in all indoor areas.
Morningside Lights Workshop participants must:
Provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination along with an accompanying ID
Stay home if you don’t feel well
Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 8 PM
The Morningside Lights procession begins in Morningside Park at 116th Street and Morningside Avenue at 8 PM. Meet at the start to walk in the procession, or join in anywhere along the route. The route is approximately one mile in length, and arrives on the Columbia campus around 8:45 PM approximately.
If you wish to carry a lantern, arrive at 7 PM for rehearsal at 120th Street and Morningside Avenue. The artists encourage you to wear blues, black, and/or white to best reflect the blue glow of the lanterns.
Lanterns are assigned first-come, first-served beginning at 7 PM sharp.
Morningside Lights is grateful to its Partners, who help make this event possible. Columbia University School of the Arts ~ Office of Government & Community Affairs ~ Friends of Morningside Park ~ Down to Earth Farmers Markets