Above: Artist Fue Vang's light art installation. Image courtesy of the artist.

St. Paul’s annual Little Mekong Night Market is about to be lit. Literally.

All 10 of artist Fue Vang’s eight-foot-tall, sound-responsive, hybrid umbrella-and-pole fixtures will be positioned around the market this weekend, where they'll visualize sounds of the market. 

For the pieces, Vang created poles that lights up when it is triggered by sound, with an umbrella shape up top. The idea is to nudge people to interact with the sculptures, rather than just stare at their smartphones or, um, the ground.

The Asian Economic Development Association awarded Vang, who is Hmong, $10,000 to make the pieces. This is the St. Paul-born, Woodbury-based artist’s first major commission since leaving his day job in the design world.

Vang was inspired by both umbrellas and Asian lanterns, switching up perceived uses of both.

“Instead of the umbrella giving shade, it gives light,” said Vang, when I stopped by to check out a preview installation of the works.  

The poles light up, up, up (!) as the volume increases, which makes the sound itself visual and creates a fun, whimsical, interactive experience. This is way more thrilling than texting your friend who isn't at the market with you, obviously.

“I wanted to be responsive to the noise and the sound around them, so that the crowd can be the noise,” added Vang.

Little Mekong Night Market takes place on Sat., July 7 from 5 p.m.-midnight and Sun., July 8 from 2-10 p.m. in St. Paul on Western Ave. and University Ave.