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August 16, 2016
Information: 212/854-7799
Aleba Gartner, 212/206-1450
Rebecca Popp, 212/854-6460
“If you’re a fan of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, you’ve probably wondered
how those amazing puppets are created and brought to life. This weekend is your chance
not just to see behind the scenes but also to participate in the process.” 
– The New York Times 

“Each fanciful structure embodied its creators’ ebullient dreams. Assembled into
a city of light when the parade finally took shape, the lanterns formed a
collective vision of urban life in all its creative diversity.”

The Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre

at Columbia University School of the Arts

present the fifth year of a favorite community tradition:




September 17-24, 2016

A week of free community arts workshops culminates
in a procession of handmade lanterns

This year's theme is inspired by 100 years of Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry
Concept and direction by PROCESSIONAL ARTS WORKSHOP
Original score by NINA C. YOUNG
Daily lantern-building workshops, Sept. 17 â€“ 23
Miller Theatre at Columbia University (2960 Broadway)

Family craft table at the Common Ground festival, Sept. 24, 2–5 p.m.
Morningside Park (114th St. and Morningside Ave.)

Illuminated procession on Saturday, September 24, 8 p.m.
Begins in Morningside Park (116 St. & Morningside Ave.)

Sign-up at
Morningside Lights 2015; Photo by Karli Cadel
From Melissa Smey, Executive Director
Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University: 
“It has been so gratifying to see Morningside Lights grow over these past four years into a beloved neighborhood tradition under the skillful direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Processional Arts Workshop. I am always inspired by the passion and creativity that participants pour into this collaborative project, and each year I am overwhelmed by the joyous response of our community as the illuminated masterpieces make their way along the route. I am thrilled to partner with Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library on this year’s theme, celebrating 100 years of Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, and I can’t wait to see where it leads us.”
The 5th annual MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS, presented by the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University, kicks off on Saturday, September 17 with the theme TRAVERSE, inspired by passages from Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry. Free lantern-building workshops will be hosted daily at Miller Theatre from September 17–23 (see below for times). The workshops culminate in an illuminated procession of community creations that will light up Morningside Park on Saturday, September 24. Information and sign-ups are available at
Workshops are geared toward teens and adults, but children 10 and up are welcome if working with a participating adult. A family craft table geared toward younger children will be hosted during the Common Ground festival in Morningside Park on Saturday, September 24.

For 100 years, the Pulitzer Prizes have celebrated the leading writers and artists of our time. Over the course of the week, visiting artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Processional Arts Workshop will help community members imagine and design vibrant lanterns that illuminate passages by Sara Teasdale, Mark Strand, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Lowell, and other great poets who have received this distinctive honor over the past century. Kahn and Michahelles will facilitate the production of the fleet of 100+ illuminated objects by teaching participants the artistic fabrication techniques needed to bring their ideas to life. 

“Poetry has an uncanny way of returning to us again and again, each time with rediscovered personal relevance and seemingly prescient imagery,” say Kahn and Michahelles. “Drawing inspiration from poets ranging from Robert Frost to Rita Dove, participants will embed fragments of text into figments of imagination. The resulting procession will appear as a serpentine line of illuminated verse, forming and re-forming into new sequences as it traverses Morningside Park in a procession (to quote Wallace Stevens) ‘of body and air and forms and images / relentlessly in possession of happiness.’”

Click here to view photos of Morningside Lights 2015. 

Morningside Lights concept and direction by Processional Arts Workshop. Co-produced by the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts in partnership with Friends of Morningside Park. This year’s theme was developed in collaboration with Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library and their concurrent exhibition celebrating the Pulitzer Prize centennial.
Morningside Lights 2015; Photo by Karli Cadel

The Lantern-Building Workshops

From Saturday, September 17 through Friday, September 23, daily lantern-building workshops will take place at Miller Theatre, on Broadway at 116th Street. Participants are invited to put their creative skills to use building lanterns and fantastical sculptures inspired by passages from Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry.

On Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18, workshops will run from noon to 6:00 p.m. During the week, workshops will run from 2:00–8:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 2:00–10:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Those interested in taking part can visit for more information and to sign up for the build, the procession, or both.

Workshops are free and open to participants of all backgrounds and abilities. Activities are geared toward teens and adults, but children ages 10 and up are welcome if working with a participating adult. Materials, tools, and techniques may not be appropriate for children under age 10.

A family craft table featuring a lantern-making project designed for younger children will be hosted on Saturday, September 24 from 2:00–5:00 p.m. during the Friends of Morningside Park’s annual Common Ground festival, which fills Morningside Park with performances and arts activities. Children and their families are invited to create lanterns during the day for that evening’s Morningside Lights procession.
Morningside Lights 2013, Photo by Karli Cadel

Processional Arts Workshop

Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, PAW Artistic Directors
with workshop participants; Photos by Karli Cadel
Processional Arts Workshop (PAW), under the direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, creates site-specific parades, processions, and immersive theatre happenings worldwide. Inspired by diverse, global traditions of Carnivalesque street theatre, large-scale puppetry, and ritual pageant, PAW uses processional art as means to build and sustain community spirit and awareness, designing original works for established public events and festivals, as well as seeding site-specific pageant traditions in communities where no such events may have existed before. Drawing on regional cultures, history, folklore, ethnicity, and current sociopolitical concerns, PAW engages local residents in every stage of production, empowering them to identify and express the narratives that uniquely define “local” in their own community, against the modern tide of global homogenization.

The Arts Initiative

The Arts Initiative at Columbia University is a pioneering venture to make arts and culture a meaningful part of every Columbian's experience. Founded in 2004, the Arts Initiative’s diverse programs encourage students, faculty, and staff to experience the creative life of the campus, engage the cultural riches of New York City and the wider world, and create arts and performance. Under the auspices of the Arts Initiative, Columbia students, faculty, and staff attend cultural events across New York City, benefit from ticket discounts and subsidies, and connect to one another through the Arts Initiative’s vibrant programming. At its core, the Arts Initiative creates and facilitates opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchange and is integral to the fabric of campus life. Its programs benefit from engagement with Columbia's world-class faculty, especially those of the School of the Arts, of which it is a part.

Miller Theatre

Miller Theatre at Columbia University is the leading presenter of new music in New York City and one of the most vital forces nationwide for innovative programming. In partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller is dedicated to producing and presenting unique events, with a focus on contemporary and early music, jazz, opera, dance, and multimedia performances. Over the past 25 years, Miller Theatre has helped launch the careers of myriad composers and ensembles, serving as an incubator for emerging artists and a champion of those not yet well known in the United States. A four-time recipient of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, Miller has built a reputation for attracting new and diverse audiences to programs highlighting underrepresented corners of the classical music repertoire.

In June 2011, Miller Theatre produced its first free outdoor performance in Morningside Park, presenting John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit performed by 99 percussionists scattered throughout the park. September 2012 marked the first Morningside Lights procession, a widely popular and “eerily beautiful” (Time Out New York) event, now an annual celebration. Other community programs include free early-evening Pop-Up Concerts and two new annual theatrical productions: The Carnival of the Animals and The Bremen Town Band.
Columbia University’s Miller Theatre is located north of the Main Campus Gate
at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall.

Directions and information are available online 
at or at 212.851.9574.

For photos, please contact Rebecca Popp
at 212/854-6460 or
For further information and to arrange interviews,
please contact Aleba & Co. at 212/206-1450 or

Copyright © 2016 Aleba & Co., All rights reserved.

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