Festivals and parades around the world make the darkest, shortest days of the year easier to get through. China, for example, celebrates with the Lantern Festival: thousands of lanterns of different shapes and sizes are lit and set adrift in the sky and water, some with riddles written on them, some with wishes folded inside them, and some shaped to symbolize family and well-being. Jamestown Art Center (JAC) has created its own tradition to light up the darkest nights: the Lantern Workshop, Parade, and Festival, on March 11.
The parade was started by the organization Concrete Couch, which works with kids and community groups to create public art; it pitched a lantern spectacular to JAC inspired by Asian and Chinese New Year celebrations and similar solstice festivals in England. Three workshops for both kids and adults are offered during the week of the festival, using translucent materials to create lanterns of all shapes and sizes and run by multimedia artist Susie Mathews and ceramics studio manager Jon Baylor. “For us, it’s a great community-building activity involving creations of projects in groups and culminating around a celebration where those creations are ‘activated’,” says Seamus Hames, JAC’s arts education coordinator. On parade day, families will walk down Narragansett Ave with their beautifully glowing lanterns lighting up the sky. After the parade, the festival begins back at the JAC with food and refreshments. The lanterns will shine together, a celebration of the strength of the community through the arts.