Artist Craig Colorusso will show four installations and a documentary at Enough Pie's Sound + Light
Unless you’re headed to a strip club or sightseeing at Magnolia Cemetery, there’s not much reason to take a leisure trip up to King St. Extension. Running smack alongside train tracks and replete with low industrial buildings, the road is about as aesthetically far from historic Charleston as you can get.
But for Cathryn Zommer and Rachel Parris, the two-person staff of creative placemaking group Enough Pie, that doesn’t mean the area doesn’t have something to offer. “What we’re trying to do is showcase this part of Charleston,” Zommer says. “We really like opening doors to spaces in the upper peninsula that are typically closed, and inviting people in to experience what’s here.”
That’s exactly what they’ll be doing this month with a five-day art installation called Sound + Light. Featuring visual and auditory pieces by Arkansas-based artist and winner of Artfields 2014 Craig Colorusso, Sound + Light will transform a warehouse at 1505 King St. Extension into an immersive, contemplative art environment.
You could say that Colorusso and Enough Pie are a perfect match for each other. Enough Pie, which was founded in 2013, is anchored in Charleston’s upper peninsula — in the creative community office space of 1600 Meeting, to be exact.
The group’s mission is to use art and creativity to build community, and though they initially struggled to connect with the residents of their chosen neighborhood, over the years they’ve become both more focused and more integrated into the entire upper peninsula community — not just with the young professionals lured to the area by (relatively) affordable housing prices.
Enough Pie brought in Zommer as its new executive director this April and hired Parris around the same time. Zommer’s passion for and background in community activism has given Enough Pie a renewed sense of energy — enough to pull off the monumental task of filling a huge warehouse with large, multidimensional and multimedia artworks, plus a short documentary film. “When I walked into 1505, I just gasped. This is the largest space I’ve ever been in in Charleston,” Zommer says.
Zommer connected with Colorusso during the Lake City, S.C. arts festival Artfields back in 2014. Colorusso is a musician as well as an artist, and he’s interested in exploring the boundary of viewer and viewed, spectator and artist.
Colorusso's "Sun Boxes" are series of stand-alone wooden speakers topped with solar panels that each play a pre-recorded guitar note as they absorb the sun’s energy
“When I was younger I was in a few bands, and I loved it — I loved being up there and doing my thing on stage,” Colorusso says. “But there was always that barrier between audience and the performer. I wanted to make something that people could be part of. I wanted to create an environment where people could come and be a participant.” In his own way, Colorusso creates community through his art. His sculptures incorporate his own music, enveloping the viewer in sound.
When Zommer met him, he was showing his interactive piece “Sun Boxes,” which is a series of stand-alone wooden speakers topped with solar panels that each play a pre-recorded guitar note as they absorb the sun’s energy. The effect is of an almost gong-like sound — it’s organic, meditative. “I came across Craig’s ‘Sun Boxes,’ and I ended up staying for a long time watching how people were engaging with them — kids were running through it, and it was creating real excitement among the guests,” Zommer says. “I got really excited because at Enough Pie, we really look at using creativity as a means for community engagement. Watching all these people smile at each other and laugh and talk about it was exactly what our mission in working with the arts is.”
She engaged Colorusso to show his “Sun Boxes” at Enough Pie's June Awakening: Solstice art event, where they hummed and thrummed in an empty downtown lot surrounded by temporary murals by local artists. And then Zommer decided to take their partnership further. Sound + Light will feature four of Colorusso’s installations — “Cubemusic,” “Moon Phases,” “MB89,” and the aforementioned “Sun Boxes” (which will be set up outside), as well as a short documentary about the artist. The artworks vary in form; “MB89” is a series of three large glowing cylinders inside of which Colorusso stands and plays the bass clarinet, while 'Moon Phases” is a series of layered, white rectangles accompanied by different musical tones.
"MB89" features glowing cylinders in which Colorusso stands and plays the clarinet
The installation is accompanied by two other events: the first, Igniting Sound + Light: Preview, is a ticketed preview party with food and an open bar that will allow guests to be the first to see the installation. There’s a dance party that same night, and guests can purchase lower-priced tickets — $20 instead of $50 — if they want to skip the refreshments and just dance the night away.
Then on Halloween morning, local yoga instructor Ashley Bell will host Spectra, an hour-long yoga practice among Colorusso’s installations.
But Zommer stresses that Sound + Light itself — the five-day installation — is free and open to all. “It’s really important to us that all are welcome here. We’re reaching out to folks through various organizations and neighborhood groups to make sure that everyone who wants to experience it can experience it.”
Also toward that end, food trucks will set up outside the warehouse each day during Sound + Light from 12-2 p.m., and Enough Pie is bringing in picnic tables to place among the Sun Boxes so that people can sit and enjoy a meal together.
For Colorusso, Sound + Light is an exciting chance not only to become a part of Charleston for five days, but to see his works together under one roof. This will be the first time he’s had the space to show them all at once. “Although I see each of the pieces as their own entity, there is a connection,” he says. “In general I like to view my life as a body of work, and I’ve always envisioned a scenario where they could all be together.”
As for Zommer, Sound + Light presents not just an opportunity to grow community and enjoy an artist’s work, but to turn inward, as well. “We’re turning the lights off in this warehouse, so it’ll be a darkened space illuminated by these glowing sculptures,” she says. “The music is very haunting — it’s an interesting space for creating a contemplative mood. Awakening was all about the solstice, about letting the sun shine in, and this is really going into darkness. I’m excited to be working with those rhythms.”