Light in the Head

Light in the Head / a commemorative work by Jan Gilbert, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

“. . . The story of empathy and tragedy. The story of risk to fulfill desire. The story of a return to continuity. The story of water flowing without effort. The story of killing a bird. The story of resenting. The story of walking through days in the light.”

from LIGHT IN THE HEAD by Andrew Forster

In observance of World Aids Day/Day With(out) Art, on December 1, 1995, this commemorative photo installation was on view in the corner windows and gallery of the Contemporary Arts Center. This was a multidisciplinary work incorporating images, texts, light and candles. Movement, perception and boundaries of time, space and memory are some of the issues addressed in this memorial to a lost friend and to the multitude taken by the HIV virus.

From 10 am to 5 pm (gallery hours) on December 1, Gilbert was on hand in the gallery making and burning her commemorative photo/candles.

The exhibition was able to be viewed by the public from street level (at the corner of Camp and St. Joseph Streets) at any hour from December 1 – December 10, and from within the gallery during regular gallery hours.

“This work by Jan Gilbert, dedicated ‘to Jamie,’ was particularly meaningful in the way that the community was involved…. Over time, the melted candles, the burnt, ashen images that remained, in conjunction with the hanging installation of transparent xerox-transfer panels, created a haunting memorial, as well as a testimony to the feelings of those left behind.”

Laura Richens, Contemporary Arts Center

Light in the Head was made possible by the NEA/Rockefeller Foundation and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Regional Artists Project Fellowship, and by the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Additional community sponsors included NOLA CANDLE COMPANY, RIDGWAY’S, and TABLE 25. These businesses participated in this project as a commemoration to their loved ones, by supplying in-kind donations of materials, printing, and design services.