Hundreds of people flocked to New Haven’s Ninth Square District on Friday night to attend the third annual Light Artists Making Places (LAMP) Festival.

The festival, unique to New Haven, is an art, music and culture festival focused around the use of light to make art. LAMP was conceived by the group 9Arts, a collection of artists and volunteers from the historic Ninth Square area, according to the festival’s website. The festival was combined with the annual Citywide Open Studios event put on by galleries in the area.

The theme of this year’s festival was “The Phantom Shippe,” a local historical legend based on the “Ghost Ship” of 1647, chosen to celebrate New Haven’s 375th anniversary. The Ship has inspired artists and poets, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, for centuries, according to Christopher Arnott in an article of New Haven Living Magazine.

The festival took place in several different galleries, performance spaces and outdoor lots throughout the Ninth Square District. The sides of buildings were lit with colorful projections, and the sounds of drums, guitars and ethereal noises wafted through the night air. Throughout the night, attendees wandered among the festival’s exhibits, murmuring in hushed amazement.

Candles, weighed down with sand-filled paper bags, lined the streets. A lighthouse on wheels, approximately 15 feet tall, also made its rounds through the streets, acting as a “beacon for the phantom ship,” according to the driver of the lighthouse.

“The exhibits of live art enliven the space down here, which sometimes can seem a little dead,” said attendee Kalee Sprague, a Yale University library employee.
Many local galleries were open for the festivals, showing off exhibitions that following the theme of light and phantom ships.

The Grove, a local performance space, was one of the featured locations. Exhibits ranged from dancers performing with neon Hula Hoops, wire sculptures spelling out different words and even a staged mermaid autopsy in a room filled with blue haze and permeated with the strong scent of fish.

Local artist OluShola Cole also participated in an exhibit at The Grove. Cole, who is a first-year MFA student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, came home to New Haven to present her first big piece in a gallery, an interactive piece featuring paper boats and a lobster net.

“I love the creativity [the LAMP festival] brings out in people,” Cole said.

Other exhibitions were not limited to the interiors of galleries and buildings in the New Haven area. Many of the thematic light exhibitions of the festival were dispersed among various parking lots in the Ninth Square District. At these sites, an artist would project a visual onto the wall of a building to musical accompaniment.

Edmond Deraedt, an artist from northern N.J., produced light paintings projected onto the wall of a factory. His artwork consisted of mixing viscous fluid and ink into different light solvents. As he mixed different fluids together to create his painting, music and improvisational dance accompanied the movements of the ink across his canvas.

Many of the same galleries are open on the first Friday of every month for the Ninth Square District’s monthly Gallery Crawl.