While walking down Chapel Street, some people mistake Joy Wulke’s ARC ’74 art display for the opening of a new nightclub.
With the assistance of University Properties and the New Haven City Plan Department, Wulke and other members of a local artistic group have been making use of a vacant building to put up a storefront display focused on the use of light. The exhibit uses pyramids, scrims and other props used in the performances of Projects for a New Millennium, a nonprofit corporation that seeks to create art with an appreciation for the natural world.
Wulke said the idea behind the Chapel Street display is a universal fascination with light.
“The exhibit is a story of a day in the life of light,” she said.
Wulke, an environmental artist, is a founding member of Projects for a New Millennium. The organization is currently working on “Tetra Lumina 2” for this coming September. The original “Tetra Lumina” was a sculpture presented at the June 2002 Edge Festival, a project in conjunction with the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven.
“We make surrealistic presentations about natural phenomena, and tie our perceptions about life to the natural world,” Wulke said. “It gives artists a format to collaborate with scientists to expose natural phenomena in magical and intriguing ways.”
Jamie Burnett, the lighting designer for Projects for a New Millennium, said he programmed a computer light board for display in the storefront exhibit. The light board creates various effects during the day, including flashes of light signalling the hour. Burnett said he hopes to encourage people to question their assumptions about what they are seeing.
“I like to make people go ‘what is that for?'” he said. “Some people think it’s a nightclub and start to line up outside of it.”
Burnett said that since it is difficult to overpower the light of day with artificial light, the display is designed for nighttime viewing.
“The building looks like it comes alive at night,” Wulke said.
The building housing the light display is currently without a tenant. David Newton, associate vice president and director of University Properties, said Karyn Gilvarg ARC ’75 , the executive director of New Haven’s City Plan Department, first approached him with the idea of showing Wulke’s work. He decided an art display would be a more attractive offering than a vacant storefront.
“It’s a window in a very important location for us,” Newton said. “It wasn’t being used to its full advantage.”
Newton said that while they are getting offers for rental of the space, they have no fixed commitment. He said they may make some changes to the display, but it will remain for the time being and has met with positive feedback.
“People stop, notice and talk to us about it,” he said.
One upcoming change to the display will be the addition of images of frogs. Wulke said she thought of this addition while she was at the Stone Creek Quarry, a site Projects for a New Millennium uses for a performance space.
“The frogs in the quarry were so vocal,” she said. “They will start to creep into the space.”