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Outdoor Art Installation Lights Up Deering Library

Artist uses words of Shakespeare, Dante, others in stunning light show on campus

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December 17, 2013 | by Erin White
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Internationally-known Italian light artist Marco Rotelli will bathe the façade of Northwestern University’s Deering Library with one of his signature illuminations during the third week of January.

The light installation will be on display during five of the darkest and gloomiest evenings of the year, Monday, Jan. 13, through Friday, Jan 17, from 5 to 9 p.m.

For his creation, Rotelli took inspiration from the famous Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” and its refrain “Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light.” The light installation will celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over the forces of cold and melancholy -- with lines from Shakespeare, Dante, Dickinson and others projected onto Deering’s soaring façade.

On Jan. 13 and Jan. 16, a special program related to the illumination will take place inside the library from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  Members of the acting faculty and students from Northwestern’s department of theatre -- under the direction of Linda Gates, the department’s head of voice  -- will perform passages from plays and poems chosen to provide an antidote against the darkness, cold and dank of the winter season. After the performance, hot chocolate and popcorn will be served in the vaulted -- and heated -- Gothic halls of Deering Library.

Rotelli was invited to create this combination art installation-and-event based on the popularity of a similar project at Northwestern last March. For one evening his work titled “WORDS” delighted hundreds of students and faculty.

“Last year it was so beautiful, but it was over in the blink of an eye,” said Jeffrey Garrett, associate University librarian for special libraries at Northwestern. “This year, by repeating ‘Rage Against the Dying of the Light’ on five successive nights, no one will miss the opportunity to enjoy Marco’s work.”

The illumination will be visible to everyone passing Deering Library, including commuters traveling along Sheridan Road.

Rotelli, born in 1955 in Venice, was the Winter 2013 Artist-in-Residence at Northwestern’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. He is the creator of stunning light installations all over the world, including in Paris, Rome, Santiago di Compostella in Spain, Jinan in China, New York and Chicago (last year at the Field Museum).  

Discussing last year’s Deering illumination, Rotelli said in an interview: “What lasts is memory, memory working in the minds of many people. Anyone who participates in this event in any way will not forget it.”

The sponsors of this year’s illumination are Northwestern University Library, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Chicago, Northwestern’s Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Block Museum and the department of French and Italian at Northwestern.