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Artists are lighting up Lincoln Square with hope and resilience for holidays

Artist Seth Tillett stands at the foot of the Dante Alighieri statue, where the Tumbling Brights exhibit culminates.

December usually marks the installation of countless holiday themed decorations throughout the city, celebrating the season of giving. This year, two artists constructed a light show, not to celebrate, but to lament the thousands of individuals lost to the COVID-19 virus along the Broadway Malls from Columbus Circle to 70th Street.

Dubbed Tumbling Brights, this extensive roadway is lit by a procession of ten stick figures erected in a variety of somersaulting positions. These totems are illuminated with hundreds of polished bulbs, which light the way to Dante Park on 63rd Street, directly opposite Lincoln Center.

Here, passersby can behold a wavering light show depicting the constellations projected on the over nine-foot-tall statue of poet Dante Alighieri.

Rather than focusing on the holidays, the Tillett siblings based their artistic lights on the “Hope and Resilience” of New Yorkers throughout the pandemic.

This art fixture is the brainchild of brother and sister team Seth and Linnaea Tillett and was commissioned by the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District (BID).

Running the length of the entire Lincoln Square neighborhood, this artistic endeavor was inspired by the multifaceted hardships the 2020 pandemic has wrought, including the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers as well as the closure of famed Manhattan institutions such as Broadway and Lincoln Center itself.

“The Lincoln Square BID gave us total freedom, I said I am not doing reindeer, and all they wanted was for it to be hopeful. This isn’t a time for jingle bells. This is not snowflakes and red bows. [This is] more thoughtful. Dante is the poet of the afterlife and we have to consider how many people we have untimely lost, but at the same time not dwell on death or anything negative, but dwell more on hope and resilience,” said Seth Tillett.

Linnaea Tillett proudly stands in front of the Tumbling Brights light showcase. (Photo by Dean Moses)

The Tillett siblings are both proud New Yorkers, who slowly watched their home decline over the course of the year from the inside, so they jumped at the chance to help rejuvenate a tired city through mental stimulation. Linnaea Tillett runs a landscaping lighting firm, yet despite her knowledge with the product, the project itself was a new experience for the designer both in terms of application and representation.    

Artists used a projector to display the constellations across iconic statue, Dante Alighieri at Dante Park on 63rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Dean Moses)

“We do parks around the city and country, but this was really, really different for us to take on something temporary. I hope people who see this feel that there is something gently fascinating, gently inspiring, that it’s a moment, not only Christmas but to just celebrate the fact there are many of us still here, and many of us not,” said Linnaea Tillett.

Monica Blum, president of the Lincoln Square BID, and Seth and Linnaea Tillett officially lit the public art space on Dec. 1, which will be available to view through Feb. 28, 2021.

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