Students invited to explore culture and sustainability through IllumiNATION

October 04, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts and Student Engagement Programs have collaborated to launch an initiative to create a community for students to connect via the arts while also promoting sustainability. The project, IllumiNATION, sponsors workshops available to all students and aims to use the art of illuminated objects to connect students across cultures, spark conversations about sustainability, and celebrate the arts as a catalyst for unity and responsible citizenship.

Cheryl Capezzuti, a well-known Pittsburgh artist, is providing the creative direction for the project. Capezzuti is best known for her parade-sized giant puppets and her largest work, the First Night Pittsburgh Parade. She also is a master teaching artist, commissioned puppet-maker, creator of puppet shows, and a giant puppet fitness enthusiast.

“Cheryl has been integral in the creation of IllumiNATION, designing and building our playful lion puppets, training the team in how to run our various workshops, and sharing her expertise and knowledge around parades,” said Hope Falk, student arts engagement manager and co-director of IllumiNATION.

Capezzuti, a Penn State alumna, is excited to engage with students on this project.

“I am excited to be invited back to my alma mater to collaborate with campus leaders to craft a new, art-centered, student-powered campus tradition,” said Capezzuti. “The intent of the project is to invite every student into a creative process, to connect with the community, reflect on sustainability, and participate in a meaningful, illuminated parade on March 28 [2020].”

The exploration of light is the thread that weaves through IllumiNATION. The project uses light as a means to bring the Penn State community together and create dialogue around culture and sustainability. Many cultures use light and lanterns in celebration, and Earth Hour, a grassroots movement, uses light to bring attention to climate change.

The initiative will facilitate a variety of workshops, some of which have a cultural or sustainable focus. Workshops are hands on and do not require any previous art experience. Participants create sustainable art pieces, many of which have elements related to light, including puppets, lanterns, illuminated wings and wearable hats. The participants and the art will come together at the end of March next year for a large illuminated parade through Penn State’s University Park campus.

“IllumiNATION has three main goals but is ultimately about building community through the arts,” said Falk. “First, to unite Penn State students as a community through the arts. Second, to bridge the gap between international and domestic students. Lastly, to spark conversation about sustainability and shed light on the issues surrounding climate change. We recognize that we are all part of a global community and wish to encourage students to better understand not only their local community but act as citizens of the world.”

“I am an artist who is deeply invested in strengthening communities through the creation of collaborative, arts-based events,” said Capezzuti. “My personal artistic goals lend themselves well to this project: To encourage people to ponder the things we take for granted and the things we discard, to talk about the role of art in contemporary life, to collaborate in a creative process, and to find delight in the effort.”

IllumiNATION is a collaboration between Penn State’s Center for Performing Arts and Student Engagement Programs, a unit of Student Affairs. The project launched on Sept. 19 and will facilitate workshops throughout the fall and spring semesters with a culminating parade on March 28, 2020, to showcase the work for the Penn State community. Falk and Amy Dupain, program and development director for the Center for Performing Arts, co-direct IllumiNATION.

Learn more about the project and find upcoming workshops on the IllumiNATION website. Follow IllumiNATION on Instagram and Facebook @psuillumination for updates.

Last Updated October 18, 2019