Above: Artist Jen Lewin's renderings of "Aurora." Images courtesy of the artist.
 
An aurora is coming to Minneapolis. It’s not a naturally occuring northern light show, but it could come close. 
 
The new “Aurora” is an interactive public artwork by NY-based artist Jen Lewin, and it will live in Terminal 1-Lindbergh's ticketing and baggage claim levels come February 2020. Lewin's concept was unveiled earlier this week at the airport in a presentation by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), the Airport Foundation MSP, Arts@MSP, the artist Jen Lewin, and local collaborating artist Betsy Alwin, who will be mentored by Lewin.
 
The structure itself, which is made of glass and metal, looks like a giant half-spiral, suspended gracefully and curving down from the ticketing to the baggage level. It will be created from vintage glass bulbs, an aluminum honeycomb structure, and more than 8000 interactive LEDs which will gently change colors, evoking the subtle movement of light. The piece will cost $750,000 including design fees, fabrication and installation. 
 
But that’s just part of the show. The interactive element of “Aurora” is embedded into the floor of the baggage claim level. A cluster of glass in the shapes of amorphous blobs, which represent some of Minnesota’s lakes, will change colors when people stand on them. If people wave their hands while standing there, the “Aurora”  above above will gently light up. With 24-36 color palettes, the sculpture changes colors based on seasons (blue and white for colder seasons, green and yellow for spring, and many more). 
 
Minnesotans helped Lewin arrive at this concept. She came to the Twin Cities this past June for a series of three public meetings, where she asked people to offer their thoughts and feelings about Minnesota. Lewin was selected to be the artist for this project from a group of 59 applicants.
 
This is not the artist’s only piece in Minnesota, however. Her interactive artwork "Sidewalk Harp" is installed downtown at 500 N 5th Street, at the headquarters of the Be Match Registry. This one also employs motion-based light changing. A giant wave-like piece of steel with LED lights allows visitors to wave their hands underneath it and hear musical sounds.
 

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