Sheila de Bretteville’s ‘..Lighting Your Way..’ will be a ground-breaking artwork in New Haven’s Route 34 Connector highway underpass. This interactive light sculpture, commissioned by Site Projects, will be installed in the highly trafficked underpass on Union Avenue between the train station and downtown New Haven. Industrial, dirty, and forbidding, the Route 34 underpass is notorious among the many pedestrians and residents who walk to and from the train station and live in the surrounding neighborhoods: the Hill, Wooster Square, Long Wharf and the Downtown.
Artist Sheila de Bretteville has specialized in public artworks that engage communities around the world. Long interested in this site de Bretteville has been a regular pedestrian to the train station. She researched the neighborhoods, conversed with local residents, and integrated their ideas into her design for the artwork.
‘..Lighting Your Way..’ will be a permanent installation spanning the length of the 90ft passage under the highway bridge, employing an array of motion-activated lights and spotlights. Improvements to the industrial landscape will solve water drainage problems, provide greater accessibility, and in the process, create a new public plaza for the City.
In addition to the installation of the artwork, Site Projects will bring together people from the adjacent neighborhoods to celebrate the re-imagined site in recognition of the centuries of use by residents from – wharves to neighborhoods to the destruction by urban renewal and imposition of highways to de Bretteville’s ‘..Lighting Your Way..’ – a new plaza and a gateway to the City. A documentary film starring residents and pedestrians will capture the progress of the construction over the course of the project. An animated film short that captures the magnificent history of the site will be produced and shared as educational and promotional material. Students from New Haven area high schools will be invited to participate in the project as Public Art Fellows 2017. Students will work with teachers and artist mentors on an interpretation of the site from its colonization nearly 400 years ago to present day. Each fellow will produce an artwork or performance that expresses their interest in the site and participate in an exhibition and celebration of that work in August.
This artwork represents a unique partnership of Site Projects, ConnDOT, the City of New Haven Departments of Planning, Engineering and Economic Development, National Endowment for the Arts, and a Public Art & Community grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, part of the Department of Economic & Community Development, and the citizens of New Haven.