South Bend Sculptures: River Lights


This past Saturday I wandered down to the St. Joseph to watch the sunset and expierence the lights on the river. I have driven past the river before but I have never walked up to the river bank to really see what was happening. I brought a pair of light refraction glasses with me to accentuate the effects of the lights. All the photos I took were looking through the refraction glasses with the lens of my camera.

In the installation, which was designed by Canadian artist Rob Shakespeare, contains five separate light structures with changing LED lights. The lights are powered by hydroelectric energy that is produced by the river itself. I was in awe of how the entire instillation worked together to light up the river, especially the Jefferson Boulevard Bridge Lighting, which is pictured below. img_7427

The bridge captures your attention as the motion sensors change the colors of the lights as you walk underneath, drawing you into its mesmerizing show. As you emerge from the bridge, the other installations light up the water flowing downstream. “The Light forest” comprised of five 24 square in. towers light up different colors and play a back and forth light show with “The Crescent” which is a half circle of lights adjacent to the circle. Across the river is “The Light Trio”, a complimentary set of 30 square in. towers that reflect back across the water and bring the light effects completely across the water.

The final piece is “The Keeper of the Fires” which is a set of lights that illuminates acclaimed 1980 sculpture by Mark Di Suvero that was built to commemorate the legacy of the Potawatomi Indians. To me, South Bend is represented by this sculpture. It is the light on the river that reminds me where I am. A friend and South Bend native in a painting class last semester created a rendition of this sculpture that I will never forget, and he described this sculpture as “a comforting beacon the reminds him that he is home”. I believe that this sculpture means this to those who call South Bend home. The whole installation is a beautiful beacon of light on the St. Joseph River and makes South Bend that much brighter.


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