CLARKSVILLE — An upcoming art installation will use an immersive blend of light and sound to transform and highlight the natural beauty of the Falls of the Ohio.
A multi-day exhibition called LightFall is planned for the Falls of the Ohio State Park in early September. It will feature an art installation by Annie Mitchell, a light and sound artist who uses technology to highlight natural landscapes.
The riverfront art installation called Aleuria will be along a trail at the Falls of the Ohio, and the ticketed event will take place Sept. 6-8 from 9 p.m. to midnight for the public.
The event was organized in partnership with the Falls of the Ohio Foundation, River Heritage Conservancy and SoIN Tourism.
Mitchell is a Southern Indiana native based in Los Angeles. Her site-specific work has been featured across the country and the world, including places such as Alaska, the Netherlands, Belgium and Finland.
Her work at the Falls of the Ohio will include hand-woven sculptures that use about 50 miles of fiber optic strands to form about 500 “tentacles” that will be spread across the landscape.
She uses the fiber optics to “trace the energy” she sees or feels at the various landscapes.
“I can’t really see what I’m doing in the daytime,” Mitchell said. “I’m putting all the stuff out with the idea that it will look a certain way, and then in the dark, you turn it on and you have to adjust.”
“The landscape kind of disappears at night, and you are left with these kind of tentacles that spiral and roll into each other, and they create their own kind of landscape and energy.”
The soundscapes featured in Mitchell’s shows are “incredibly important,” and the visuals and sound work together to bring attendees into a “desired brainwave state” where they can feel truly relaxed.
Kenton Wooden, executive director of the Falls of the Ohio Foundation, said Mitchell’s work “combines light and sound to help put people in a therapeutic, meditative state.”
“We wanted to do something to re-engage people with these historically significant natural landscapes through art installations that inspire creativity and exploration,” Wooden said.
The show’s name, Aleuria, stems from a type of brightly-colored edible fungus found in Indiana.
Mitchell is originally from Henryville, and she grew up going to the Falls of the Ohio with her family.
“My family was very much rock hunters and driftwood hunters, and we would spend time growing up going on exhibitions led by my mom,” she said. “The Falls of the Ohio was a place she really, really loved.”
“We lost her to cancer two and a half years ago, so this project is meaningful for me in that way,” she said. “My family spent a lot of time there growing up, and it was really special to her. Now I get to go back and create something really beautiful there.”
The art will draw attention “to the natural beauty that we have here,” Wooden said, and attendees are asked to leave their phones and other devices behind as they explore the exhibition.
“Her sculptures are intended to be meditative and help disconnect people from the fast-paced world that we live in today,” Wooden said. “And so the art installation has to take place completely at night in total darkness, so it’s purposefully done at new moon so we can have as much darkness as possible.”
Mitchell said she worked with Louisville sound artist W.G. Rickel, who created a soundscape for the upcoming show, as well as a Louisville company called Axxis that is providing ambient lighting for the path.
Volunteers will be stationed along the path, which will be lowly-lit to guide people to and from the installation. Wooden said they purposefully picked a spot along trail, since it allows people to walk into the art installation and explore it on their own “instead of being forced along a particular path.”
“So her work will be intertwined with the landscape, and people can come back here and experience it in their own unique way,” he said.
Scott Martin, executive director of River Heritage Conservancy, said this is the first collaboration between the nonprofit and the Falls of the Ohio Foundation, and he is excited to bring Mitchell’s work to Southern Indiana.
“I’m really interested to see how this art installation is going to allow people to — pardon the pun — see the Falls in a whole different light,” he said. “It’s going to be really cool to see how a space a lot of people think they know really well — they’re going to see it entirely different and experience it differently, and I think that’s going to be really exciting.”
The fiber optics make for a difficult medium that is “like making enormous land sculptures out of human hair.” But for Mitchell, it has been a dream to forge her own path as an artist, and she has loved figuring out how to work with it.
“I’ve learned to really, really love the energy of it,” she said. “I love the simple lines, abstract lines, and I love the difficulty of it now,” she said. “I love that no one is messing with it in the same way I am, because it is such a weird and hard medium and requires a certain energy.”
“It turns out, this is the medium I’m supposed to be working with,” Mitchell said.
An invitation-only event for organization donors of the Falls of the Ohio Foundation and River Heritage Conservancy will be Sept. 5 at the Falls of the Ohio, and tickets for the public will be available in August. Flash photography is prohibited on the tour of the art installation.
For more information, go to LightFallEvent.com