Glow in the Dark

Ezawa's most recent CCA course was part of the ENGAGE at CCA initiative. He encouraged his light sculpture class to "infiltrate urban territory." While cycling around San Francisco he unearthed a suitable location for their final exhibition at 165 Grove Street, the vacant lot opposite City Hall. When he learned that the site had already been allocated for a project by the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, he approached them and they joined forces to create an urban installation. The final project was presented as a one-night-only show, titled Glow in the Dark.

"The project was a fascinating challenge in several ways,”" he says. "First, we welcomed the challenge of producing a visual art exhibition that takes into account the condition of people with low or no vision. Light art, of all visual art disciplines, can provide an experience for people with low vision. And secondly, this particular area is a fairly disenfranchised neighborhood. We picked up a lot of trash!"

The final exhibition combined four or five collaborative and individual student works. One was a neon inscription: "To see a world you otherwise could not see."

"It was great to have a project with real-world reverberations. It can be hard to get in touch with a 'real' audience. Most art projects take place in white cubes. But a couple hundred people came to our event. It was really amazing. There was a lot of enthusiasm from all different sides." Passersby stopped on the sidewalk, pulled out their phones, and took pictures of the installation. A staff member of the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery remarked on how wonderful it was to see an art project happening in this space, which had been empty and neglected for about 10 years. There was a great crossover of CCA students and their peers as well as clients of the Lighthouse, their friends, and people who just happened to be in the area.

Excerpted from Enter the Outsider: CCA's Kota Ezawa Scores with Smithsonian and New York by Simon Hodgson.