In 2020, we published a story about In Light Collective and their art installation In Light: of the time. The installation used projected art and poetry to express the impact that police violence continues to have in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community. In Light: of the time was co-curated and designed by Lighting Designers Brandon Stirling Baker and Alan Edwards, who had envisioned the project turning into a series of installations. After a 4Wall Sunday Roundtable discussion about uplifting black and brown stories through the presence of light, Lighting Designer Itohan Edoloyi was brought into the collective to conceive the next In Light installation. Itohan worked with two other BIPOC artists: Mixed Media Artist Nichole Washington and ART-IVIST, Performer, Choreographer, Educator, and Playwright nicHi douglas. Together, they conceived In Light: Transcend X III. Below, Itohan explains how the project came into being.
After In Light: of the time, Brandon felt that a person of color who was passionate about propelling the In Light project forward should be the one to lead – and that I should be that person. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to start. Where would I find these artists and people to work with? What venue would be open and allow this work to happen during Covid?!? Eventually, in the early months of 2021, JACK, an Obie-winning performance-meets-civic space, offered a two-week residency for artists and designers seeking a space for creativity during the pandemic. I immediately jumped on that opportunity.
A clip from in light – choreographed and produced by nicHi douglas for In Light: Transcend X III.
Now that the space was secured, I needed to find other BIPOC artists to help me fill it. For this iteration of In Light, I felt that the prevalence of black voices at that moment was needed. Not the commentary on our struggles and hardships, but rather, the beauty and joy of our lives. Before I understood my intentions for the project, I knew that nicHi douglas had to be a part of it somehow. We had worked together before and I have always been inspired by their work as a storyteller and poet. For this installation, I wanted them to create a choreographed piece, in this cocoon-esque encasement, that expressed ideas surrounding freedom, exuberance of form, and self-awareness.
From there, I spent hours and hours searching Instagram and noting different artists and their work that I came across. I was looking for things that felt unique to the spirit of the artist and/or projects that had something to say without using words. This is how I found Nichole Washington. After seeing her art, I immediately knew that I wanted to work with her. The beauty of black lives was so omnipresent in her work that I knew it would fit in with who we were and what we were creating.
Three Black Women And Our Collective Voice
In Light: Transcend X III featured brand-new works from Nichole and a peephole where guests would view the choreography in nicHi’s projected video. The one thing to tie everything together was Nichole’s unique iconography. When I initially came across her work, I was amazed at how each symbol carried its own weight and message. Nichole’s icons felt like sacred text woven into each of her paintings. They could represent protection, faith, trust, or something more abstract like heaven and earth. It felt natural bringing her iconography into other aspects of the installation, including projections throughout the space and inclusion in nicHi’s video.
Tap the image to “peek through the peephole” and watch the full video on nicHi douglas’ website.
I used light to bind their two inspired pieces together. I knew I wanted the space to beam with life and energy and figured that color would help immensely with that vision. I spent a great deal of time going through which Rosco colors would help craft the space. For the gobos, I knew that Nichole’s iconography needed to still feel personal and unique to her style when they were projected. The Rosco gobo team perfectly replicated every brushstroke to make them into tiny, metal replicas of Nichole’s work. The results were truly stunning!
In addition to her duties as lead curator for In Light Collective, Itohan Edoloyi is also the resident lighting design coordinator for The Shed’s Open Call Series. She has worked on multiple shows, varying from experimental theater, dance & events, to Off-Broadway and Broadway productions and tours. You can learn more about Itohan’s work and see her portfolio on her website: itohanedoloyi.com.
The In Light: Transcend X III Artists
Nichole Washington, nicHi douglas & Itohan Edoloyi
In Light Collective is an organization of lighting designers, poets, and visual artists that have come together to amplify BIPOC voices through the medium of light. Its purpose is to use illumination as a means to engage in an ongoing response to current events as they relate to black and brown bodies and people of color. Learn more: inlightcollective.us.