BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina, a 2010 Business Committee for the Arts awardee, is supporting Southern Lights, a signature, long-term public art project set to open August 19th, starting just a few days before the total solar eclipse.
The installation’s design will use soft blue and green lasers to connect the cities of Columbia, West Columbia, Cayce and Richland County - celebrating the work of Charles Townes, a native South Carolinian whose research led to the development of laser technology.
The art work itself will take place in “a beautiful dark natural environment in the middle of three bustling cities,” says project artist and USC Beaufort Art Department chair, Chris Robinson, who has worked with light and lasers since the 1970s. The beams would pass both over and under viewers to make the work more personal.
The installation could create a new sense of place for the region – designating cities as being “just across the river and through the lasers.”
“The beam is very small and coherent, doesn’t spread out like ambient light, and tends more toward quiet and contemplative,” Robinson said. “It should help draw attention to aspects of the night environment that people haven’t noticed or focused on before.”
The art installation will span the Conagree River between Blossom and Gervais street bridges as a part of Columbia’s Total Eclipse Weekend celebrations. Columbia, S.C. is designated as one of the best locations on the East Coast to observe the total solar eclipse, which has not been witnessed in the continental United States since 1979.
The work is set to be on display every evening for three hours and will remain in place for the next decade, thanks to the support of BCA10 2010 awardee BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBSSC) and other project sponsors.
As one of the state’s leading supporters of non-profit organizations, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has made a long-term commitment to supporting the arts in South Carolina. The 2010 BCA10 awardee recognizes that the arts help create thriving and dynamic communities that in turn contribute to South Carolina’s economic development. The company acknowledges that a culturally rich community contributes to economic development through tourism, can be a major factor in attracting new industry to the area, and helps attract and retain young professionals in the state.
BCBSSC demonstrates its strong commitment to the arts not only through monetary donations but also through in-kind gifts and employee involvement programs. Employees at all levels are engaged in supporting the South Carolina arts community, from a workplace campaign to support the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties to board service at numerous area arts organizations. Since 2004, BlueCross Blue Shield has donated over $4.7 million to South Carolina arts organizations.
The Southern Lights project is organized by business and cultural districts, community-action hubs and arts organizations such as What’s Next Midlands, Conagree Vista Guild, S.C. State Museum and One Columbia for Arts & History.
Photo: Mock-up of “Southern Lights,” a laser art installation designed by artist and USC Beaufort Art Department chair, Chris Robinson