Portland Winter Light Festival illuminates campus

Portland State University will sparkle and glow from February 7 through 9, as the Portland Winter Light Festival expands to the PSU campus for the first time ever. Now in its fourth year, this weekend-long, city-wide celebration of light brightens Portland during some of the darkest days of the calendar. A brand new area encompassing the PSU campus and South Park Blocks, called the Portland State University Zone, features light art created by students and faculty.  It joins two other major areas of the festival —the Eastside Zone near OMSI and the West Riverfront Zone near the World Trade Center as well as dozens of affiliate events around Portland.

Portland Winter Light Festival“Bringing the Portland Winter Light Festival to PSU’s downtown campus is an exciting opportunity to showcase the brilliant creative work of our faculty and students while transforming the campus environment into a place filled with unexpected discoveries and enlightening experiences,” says the festival’s co-founder, Jeff Schnabel, associate professor in the School of Architecture at PSU. 

“The Portland Winter Light Festival at PSU represents the university’s credo, ‘Let knowledge serve the city,’ combining our academic strengths and our creative forces and sharing them with the larger community,” Schnabel says.

The PSU campus will glitter with 23 light-based art creations, from a 40-foot-diameter interactive illuminated dome in the Urban Plaza to the glimmering Treeline Stage last seen in the 2018 Pickathon music festival, to large, inflated lanterns lighting the way along the South Park Blocks. Festival-goers can warm their hands at the sculptural fire pits in the Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza, and they can get their blood flowing in the Stott Center’s athletic field with interactive illuminated games including cornhole, lawn darts and soccer. Kids can get into the act at the light-play zone in Shattuck Hall, an interactive environment where young and old can explore the interplay of light and construction on a small scale.

The work of faculty and students in academic programs including architecture, art and design, music and engineering will light up the campus. Illuminated columns created by architecture students stand as beacons in the dark on the Shattuck Hall roof terrace. Dazzling animated light displays will be projected both inside and outside of buildings along the South Park Blocks. The PSU Library building becomes the canvas for projected silhouettes of PSU music professors in performance, while inside Lincoln Recital Hall, Tomas Cotik, assistant professor of violin, performs selections by Bach and Vivaldi. The Shattuck Hall Annex will be filled with projected footage of the Aurora Borealis, presented by engineering faculty member Tom Bennett and photographer Dora Redman.  Students of art and design present familiar fairy tales and fables using shadow and light in PSU’s Urban Center.

The Portland Winter Light Festival runs from Thursday, February 7 through Saturday, February 9, from 6 to 10 pm, and is free and open to the public. 


Highlights of PDXWLF at PSU

WELCOME - PSU Art + Design's Friendtorship Program
PSU Urban Center
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

Light Up Recreation
Peter W. Stott Community Field
Fri, February 8, 6 to 10 pm

Ombra Musici: Violinist Tomas Cotik Plays Bach
Lincoln Recital Hall
Sat, February 9, 7 pm

Ombra Musici: Interdisciplinary Music in Silhouette
PSU Library Facade
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

Interactive Illuminated Geodesic Dome
PSU Urban Center
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

PSU Urban Center
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

Illuminated Bike Ride
Starts at SW 11th and Mill
Friday, February 9, arrive at 7 pm, ride at 7:30 pm

Flaming Paper Airplane Fire Pits
Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

Finding Yourself Lost in the Dark
Shattuck Hall Roof Terrace
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

The Pickathon Treeline Stage
South Park Blocks
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

Reflections on the Work of Mike Kelley, “City 0000”: Light-based Play Zone
Shattuck Hall
Thurs, February 7 - Sat, February 9, 6 pm to 10 pm

The Light of Music
Lincoln Recital Hall, Room 75, PSU
Fri, Feb 8, 7:30 pm


Story by Karen O'Donnell Stein
Homepage photo: "Radiance Dome" by Light at Play, Photo by Sean Gentry
Video directed by Alicia J. Rose