Lighting Artist Spotlight: Jen Lewin
We at 1000Bulbs.com are excited to announce the launch of our new Lighting Artist Spotlight series! Kicking off our string of interviews with talented lighting virtuosos is our discussion with lighting sculptor, Jen Lewin. When we first contacted Lewin, we were flattered to hear she had created one of her amazing light sculptures using bulbs from our site. Of course we had to know more!
Jen Lewin has been engaging communities with a diverse array of light-and-sound art installations for the past 15 years. Her most famous pieces include The Pool, which consists of 120 glowing, outdoor platforms that interact with each other when stood upon; The Moths which is composed of three, giant robotic moths that dance based on how someone moves under them; The Arc Harps, an installation in which movement and laser light trigger sound; and The Edison Chandelier, a high-end light fixture created with hundreds of Edison-style light bulbs. Lewin’s work has been shown in exhibitions across the world, from SXSW and Electric Daisy Carnival in the U.S. to lighting festivals all over Europe. Shortly before she left for Burning Man in late August, Lewin granted us an opportunity to speak with her about her life, work, and inspiration – and not to mention how she used our bulbs!
Jen Lewin was never specifically trained in lighting. She was a dancer until 18, when she changed paths to study architecture at Colorado University in Boulder where her art studio is currently based. Lewin’s easy switch from the arts to technology was not surprising. She comes from a long line of artists, inventors and engineers. In her early 20s, she figured out it was possible to combine them all. The goal of her innovative artwork is to use technology to inspire connectivity between people in under-used public spaces. Lighting is a tool that allows her to do that.
"I learned that lighting draws people in. It creates an interactive environment where people can play.”
This is primarily illustrated in her large-scale projects, such as The Pool, The Arc Harps, and The Moths. However, Lewin has also created some very unique fixtures using light bulbs as well. Unlike most of the art you’ll see at a lighting festival, which is often more “projection” oriented, Lewin creates art using the light bulbs themselves rather than solely the light they produce. Very rarely do lighting artists create art that is physically manifested in sculpture. However, she chose the road the less travelled because she wanted to make something with her hands that directly engaged the community – similar to her motivation for her more dynamic artwork.
Lewin’s most interesting light fixtures are composed of hundreds of light bulbs, which she uses as a shade to surround an alternative light source. The Edison Orb and the ever-popular Edison Chandelier are created from standard incandescent bulbs made without the filament, which Lewin then modifies with a center incandescent light and attaches to custom-made frames by hand.
Lewin’s most recent fixture using Edison bulbs is The Edison Cloud, which merges her light bulb sculptures with interactive technology. The Edison Cloud is a series of five Edison Orbs where each bulb has been fitted with an LED. The piece is controlled by a small camera hanging above the orbs that is manipulated by a central computer. The camera is programmed to react to movement, so when a person crosses the plane of the camera, their body and movement are reflected as a shadow across all five chandeliers. This piece was a hit at Jen Lewin’s solo show “It’s Electric” at the CU Art Museum last summer.
And finally, Lewin revealed the piece in which she used our bulbs: her metal halide chandelier, The Arc Lamps. Similar in style to her Edison lamps, The Arc Lamps are made of rings of metal halide bulbs which create beautiful light when illuminated with LEDs. She decided to use large, HID bulbs because she liked how the LED light interacted with the unique shape of the glass. She purchased many of her lamps at an old antique store in Boston, but since the fixture she had in mind required more light bulbs than she had, she supplemented her collection with bulbs purchased from 1000Bulbs.com. Judging from the pictures, it looks like The Arc Lamps turned out great!
After Burning Man, Lewin will be speaking at INST-INT and showing off her work in Lisbon, Prague, and the Warwick center in the UK. In October, she will be presenting a new piece at AIGA. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with! For more information regarding Jen Lewin and her work, visit her website or follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.