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Light Night: Looking to the Past to Prepare for the Future

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Sam Green presents "The Lovesong of R. Buckminster Fuller" in Crystal Bridges' Great Hall.

Sam Green presents “The Lovesong of R. Buckminster Fuller” in Crystal Bridges’ Great Hall.

When I attended Sam Green’s Illustrated Lecture The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller for my adult programs internship at Crystal Bridges, I realized I have so much more to learn in this life through the many discoveries to be found at the Museum. Even though I’ve seen the geodesic dome structure, I had never heard of the man who invented it. When I told my parents everything I learned about “Bucky” Fuller at the lecture, my dad couldn’t fathom how I had never heard of him. My mother actually attended the U.S. pavilion at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal, and also voiced her surprise that I never learned about Fuller in history classes or even a basic architecture course.

IMG_2791After Green’s lecture at Crystal Bridges gave me a crash course on Fuller’s inventive movement in architectural history, I better understood the inspiration for contemporary artist, Leo Villareal’s outdoor sculpture, Buckyball, located at the Museum’s front entrance. Inspired by the innovations of Buckminster Fuller, Villareal looked to the past to create a work of art for the future.   The importance of the Buckyball on permanent display at Crystal Bridges is best described by Rod Bigelow, the Museum’s Executive Director. Bigelow describes the Buckyball as a “welcoming beacon [providing] a unique opportunity for our guests to engage with art in an outdoor setting.” Like a lighthouse on a foggy night, he says this symbolic work is a “lighted, ever-changing sculpture [reflecting] the artist’s intent of creating a modern-day campfire, where people come together to share stories, exchange ideas and reflect on their lives, all in a setting that unites the power of art and the beauty of nature.” Understanding this connection helped me realize the depth to the relationships between the art and the people at Crystal Bridges, which the Museum avidly incorporates into educational events.

Light Night Party 2013

Light Night Party 2013

As the second annual Light Night Party at the Buckyball approaches, excitement mounts for the Fall Equinox event centered on Villareal’s LED-lit geodesic sculpture. Green’s presentation on Buckminster Fuller’s life and designs serves as an educational precursor to this multifaceted evening adventure. The Museum will be collaborating with local artist Jennifer Gilder to create an interactive art-making experience for guests that explores Fuller’s futuristic philosophy. Fellow intern Katie Johnson, who has been working to support Gilder’s project, believes this exciting event’s popularity is due in part to the widespread attraction of the Buckyball. In referencing the link between Buckminster Fuller to the sculpture, Johnson describes Fuller’s innovation and passion “to stress how far we’ve come and how much further we can go to advance the human race.”

Gilder’s project at the event hopes to connect the audience/partygoers with this idea of Buckminster Fuller’s forward thinking.  Johnson says she is most excited to see everyone engage in activities that make them stop to think and introduce the group to new ideas. The Museum is not only a place to go and witness the past, but also our future. Our future as mankind was seen as a bright and shining beacon in Buckminster Fuller’s eyes, and that resonates as an idea that will be explored, discussed, and reveled upon at Crystal Bridges!

Alisa Carney is a Public Programs intern for Crystal Bridges’ Education Department.

The 2014 Light Night Party will take place on Saturday, September 20. View a video of last year’s Light Night Party here:

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