How the Light Gets In

Larry & Barbara Marshall Family Balcony, 404

How the Light Gets In, an interactive installation at the Spencer Museum of Art and Lawrence Public Library, explores themes of knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

Created by artist Sarah Newman and developed in collaboration with the KU Center for Digital Inclusion and metaLAB at Harvard, this project builds on the work of Professor Hyunjin Seo and her team with formerly incarcerated women reentering society. Newman and the KU team developed the project through a combination of conversations and creative workshops with these women.

The installation poses questions about who holds knowledge and wisdom and who is situated to teach or transmit that knowledge to others. The work also explores the role of chance, or luck, in a person’s life. The myth that hard work and determination are sufficient for success ignores individuals’ circumstances that are beyond their control.

The women in the reentry program submitted texts that will be printed out and continuously fall to the gallery floor. Visitors are welcome to take these printouts and are also invited to share their answers to questions presented on laptops, which will send text to the printer's queue. In this way, informed by the wisdom of the women in the program as well as of the audience, this exhibition encourages viewers to approach others with compassion, curiosity, and humility.

The installations at the Spencer Museum of Art and the Lawrence Public Library will each be site-specific, so we encourage you to visit both locations.

This project is a partnership between the Spencer Museum of Art and the KU Center for Digital Inclusion in the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications. It is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, the Mellon Foundation, and the Linda Inman Bailey Exhibitions Fund. Special thanks to Darcey Altschwager, Annalise Baines, Juliana Castro, Daniel Feist, Max Lever, Sonia Ralston, and Hyunjin Seo.

Selected images