Visual Arts

UAA’s ILLUMINATE Lights Up Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is being illuminated for the 6th year in a row, as Utah Arts Alliance presents its latest rendition of ILLUMINATE: Utah’s Light Art +Creative Tech Festival. Previously presented in The Gateway, this year’s festival has moved to Library Square to accommodate the growing show. While growing, the festival remains a free event. Derek Dyer, Executive Director of the Utah Arts Alliance says, “Utah Arts Alliance has been at the forefront of supporting and exhibiting new and underrepresented art forms in Utah for nearly two decades. ILLUMINATE continues to push the boundaries of the intersection of art, light, and technology. Too often these types of art forms are only shown in exclusive private and corporate settings. Our mission is to bring creative technology to everyone in the community, to inspire young and seasoned creators to explore the possibilities, and to put Utah on the map as a cultural center of innovators. Our local community and visitors have embraced this unique and beloved event, coming to the cultural core to experience this singular event.” A noble mission that can be considered accomplished.

The theme of the year is “Mother Nature in Light” a nod to the intersection of not only the aforementioned art, light and technology, but also to bringing our natural world into the mix. Kim Angeli, ILLUMINATE Festival Director, says, “ILLUMINATE’s artistic theme is Mother Nature in Light. As the world evolves from a period of collective darkness, now is the time to focus on healing — of ourselves, our communities and the natural world that supports our existence. The artists presenting at ILLUMINATE have been challenged to express their works based on Mother Nature. The theme is grounded in the nurturing and supportive notions of the feminine spirit. You will notice nods to this in the visual presentations but also in our entertainment lineup, food trucks and artist booths. Nature has inspired art since the beginning of time, through patterns, colors, shapes and feelings. What will these artists have to say?”

This theme is immediately evident to festival goers upon entering the festival. Salt Lake’s iconic City County building was transformed before viewer’s eyes through the art of projection mapping. A light show made by local artists is seamlessly projected upon the building in a luminous wallpaper. The projection show keeps the theme at its center as it displays nature scenes onto the Romanesque masonry. Attendees’ curiosity can’t linger too long on this show, however, as dynamic light works pull attention from every corner of the square. The theme is woven throughout works such as large scale insect sculptures, as well as mobile art carts decked out in gleaming leaves and limbs fit for a parade.

Though the festival takes place on one of our chilliest weekends of autumn, guests are given ample opportunities to stay warm. Whether that’s enjoying a cheese-filed panzerotti from the Italian food truck Crilu, standing close to the flamethrower near the DJ stage, or going inside of The Leonardo. Inside The Leonardo’s Flight Exhibit, ILLUMINATE families can find educational activities for all ages. The museum space is full of S.T.E.A.M. installations — the traditional components of S.T.E.M. (science, technology, mathematics) with the welcome addition of art. Local vendor booths, and raffle ticket stations, are also in the indoor venue. The mock plane interior seats serve as a welcome resting post as well.

In an effort to present an attraction that fills viewers with awe without filling the air with the pollution fireworks emit, ILLUMINATE partnered with Open Sky Productions to present Utah’s very first drone show. After a small software hiccup that resulted in a rouge drone, the sky was filled with a beautifully coordinated drone performance, brought art, light, and technology into mother nature herself acting as culmination of all the festival’s tenants at once.

The festival is free and continues Saturday November, 12, 5-11 pm. Visit for more information.

Images by Heather Hopkins

Categories: Visual Arts

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