Artist’s Perspective: Drawn to Light

adam frelin, fire fall, public art, artists

By Lead Artist Adam Frelin:

When I was younger I thought of myself as an edgy artist who was going to make shockingly complex and challenging artworks. You can imagine my surprise when the work I was creating turned out––more often than not––to be quiet and meditative. I assumed that I was in control of my own artistic interests. It turns out that I was wrong.

For example, I found myself drawn to light at night. Who isn’t? Expecting more obtuse and singular interests to come out of me, I had to reconcile with the fact that I liked the same things everybody else did, like lighting, campfires, and lightning bugs. After a brief moment of believing that I had chosen the wrong field, I decided to give myself over to it. If that’s what interested me, then I was going to do it well, and hopefully on an ambitious scale.

adam frelin, white light, public art, highway lightsFrom this, one of the first of artworks I made involved a portable light used at highway construction sites. Four of these high-powered fixtures are mounted to one trailer that has its own generator. As part of a video piece titled “Moving Spotlight,” I drove the lights along a freeway at night. Facing downward, they illuminated everything around them, creating an island of light wherever I travelled. Visit my website to read about the project and watch videos.

 

 

adam frelin, public art, wyomingNot long after this I was invited to an artist’s residency in rural Wyoming. On the mountain range above where I stayed were two perfectly shaped hills. I kept envisioning something spanning the distance between them. In one of those rare moments of insight, I decided it should be a string of fluorescent lights. Hung along a 240’ long steel cable, the glowing line could be seen for fifty miles in all directions. “White Line” acted as an effects machine, transforming the landscape around it into a psychedelic wonderland. You can see more photos at my website.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to create one of my most ambitious projects to date. Unlike “White Line,” it was based on a light project that had already happened. For nearly one hundred years an event took place at Yosemite National Park that involved shoveling hot embers over a cliff to create a waterfall of fire. Initially I thought that I was going to create a historical documentary about it, but I was so preoccupied by wanting to see it in person that I decided to do it. A cement mine in upstate New York took an interest in my project, and with their help we were able to stage the first “Firefall” for a public audience since the event last took place almost a half century ago (photo above). Visit my website to read about the project and see videos.

As opposed to predetermining my interests, I have learned to allow myself to be lead by them. Though many turn out to be dead ends, a few of them––like light at night––stick. I’m glad it did, because it has laid the groundwork for “Breathing Lights.”