July 9-12, 2013


Michael Smith-Welch


American Visionary Art Museum


workshop, electronics, programming

Luminous Motion

1-week workshop on exploring light and motion with electronics taught at the American Visionary Art Museum.

The Luminous Motion event took place at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) in Baltimore, Maryland from July 9–12, 2013. Michael is an artist in residence at AVAM and our workshop was one of a series of summer workshops offered by AVAM. It was the second week-long workshop at AVAM that Michael had taught.

I helped Michael Smith-Welch facilitate the workshop. Our goal in the workshop was to encourage play as a mode of learning about light and motion as well as a variety of materials provided by both Michael and AVAM. Amy, Becka, and two interns (Amelia and one more) helped facilitate the session. The interns were both students of studio art. Amelia was from MICA and the other intern was from UMD.

The process of preparing for the workshop was working in Michael's studio. We built Hikari No Haku boxes, which are Japanese "light boxes". Hikari No Haku boxes are made of cardboard, mylar, vellum, scotch tape. The mylar is cut into rectangular sheets that can be rolled up into tubular shapes, taped, and placed within the cardboard box. Vellum covers one of the open sides of the sheet. Light is shone in from the opposite side. The light shades through the mylar tubes onto the semi-translucent vellum sheet. The pattern of light is affected by the ways that the light interacts with the mylar and shines onto the vellum surface.

Day 1

On the first day of the workshop, everyone built Hikari No Haku boxes. We also introduced the project that we would work on for the rest of the week, a larger light box that incorporated motors, additional light sources, and techniques for light manipulation.

Photos of Hikari No Haku Boxes and the final installation.

Video of final Hikari No Haku Boxes installation.

Day 2

On the second day, we started building the light boxes. On the third and fourth days, we facilitated the kids as they built their boxes. On the final day, we combined the boxes into an installation and had a "gallery opening" during which we provided cookies, water, and some drinks, and invited parents to see the installation before taking their piece home. Some of the children took their light boxes home. Some even asked for some additional materials to bring home so they could keep exploring. We gave them materials based on how they wanted to extend their light boxes.

Photos of the light boxes being constructed.

Photos of the final light box installation.

Video of the final light box installation from the final day of the workshop.