Artist highlight| Erwin Redl – Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light
Thu Jul 30, 2020
In 2016, artist Ewin Redl, with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, collaborated with the South Carolina city of Spartanburg to create ten light installations in different neighborhoods. The project worked to “transform open spaces and create safer, more vibrant neighborhoods.” Each installation was exciting and joyful in its own way.
Erwin Redl, River Poetry, 2016, part of Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light. Photo: Gus Powell, courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies.
I was able to walk along the Cottonwood Trail “River Poetry” installation, which hung LED signs with poetry moving across them along the Lawson Fork Creek. It created an immediately fascinating dialogue between technology, art, and nature. The image was jarring, to see these bright lights against trees and the river. However, experiencing poetry in this setting instantly felt right.
Erwin Redl, Glow, 2016, from Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light. Photo: Steven Stinson.
Another site illuminated a historic smokestack from Spartanburg’s past life as a textile mill town. In a way, the lights brought our past into the 21st century, if not in function, at least in our attentions.
Erwin Redl, Mobile Suspension, 2016, part of Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light. Photo: Steven Stinson.
Mobile Suspension was on Main Street in downtown Spartanburg, and hung hundreds of colored translucent squares in grids over a park. Visitors could immerse themselves in the kaleidoscope the squares created.
It’s been four years now, but I remember holding my best friend’s hands and spinning each other in circles under the squares until we had to lay on the grass while the light and color swirled around us. That is the essence of Redl’s installations, they were accessible, exciting, and full of joy.
-by Madeleine Mitchell, Halsey Institute intern