Let There Be Light: a smart new installation at the Burchfield Penney’s Useum

Kid Stuff



From the installation

Shasti O’Leary Soudant

The Burchfield Penney Art Center’s new home opened in November of 2008, to international critical acclaim. It’s a gem of a place, located right on the Buffalo State College campus, on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. As a mother, I can’t help but think, “Oh, right, it opened a month after my son was born.” And the truth of the matter is that parenthood is sometimes like that: everything now comes back to the little ones. As much as I’d like to maintain a larger perspective, sometimes the myopic view prevails, because my habits, my interests, my patterns of social activity have all been altered. It’s not always so easy to pop into a gallery when you’ve got cereal stuck to your pants and a bevy of jingling plastic toys in your purse.

All of this is to say: if you’re a parent of young kids and you haven’t yet made it to the Burchfield Penney to see what the buzz is all about, I totally get it. But never fear: Shasti O’Leary Soudant has a new installation in the BPAC’s Useum (a child-friendly, interactive, educational exhibition space located on the first floor of the center) and your kids will love it.

Running through September 29, 2013, this installation (called “Let There Be Light”) offers a playful, hands-on exploration of light. Stop at the admissions desk first and borrow two small remote controls. These will allow you (and, much to the delight of your children, them) to control the color and timing of the lights on the walls and ceiling. Before you enter the space, there is a photo booth where you can take a strip of four photos, which will be uploaded to Flickr, and also eventually printed and hung in the exhibition space. Once you’re inside the lightinfused room, you’ll find a Lite Britetype area, which proved to be a huge hit with my four-year-old. There are also mirrors hung at kid-friendly levels, and you can use the remote control to change the color of the surrounding frames. Talk with your children about how they look in different colored lighting, make faces, and act silly. The whole point of this exhibit is to explore how we think about light, and everyone can participate in that conversation. As a harried parent, you may not feel you’ve got much insight to contribute to a conversation about art, but don’t be shy. This is a playful, lighthearted work of art; unlike most conceptual art, it allows you to have a carefree, hands-on exploration of the space. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a couple of Cheerios stuck to your shirt.

Rachel Fix Dominguez is a frequent contributor to Buffalo Spree.

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