BLINK Features Installation by NKU SOTA Faculty and Students


Oct. 9, 2019— A Northern Kentucky University collaborative artwork will be showcased as part of BLINK, the largest light, art and projection mapping event in the nation. Students and faculty from the School of the Arts (SOTA), including the NKU’s Philharmonic Orchestra, will present the Light Streams installation on Oct. 10-13 at Smale Riverfront Park, east of Roebling Suspension Bridge on the Ohio side of the river. The opening night features live performance at 9 p.m. of the Orchestra’s music timed with the kinetic movement of lights in the art work.

BLINK transforms the region into an outdoor art museum with large-scale installations, murals, and immersive art. Three faculty artists are leading the installation: Associate Professor of New Media Art Brad McCombs, Assistant Professor of Strings and Director of Orchestras Amy Gillingham and Associate Professor of Visual Communications Design Hans Schellhas.

Light Streams will use dynamic colored lights that illuminate and animate a collection of canoes orchestrated to a musical score. The interactive installation will evoke rivers and streams with their power to captivate the imagination through their infinite movement of color and shape. The collaborative project uses the metaphor of canoes traveling on water to communicate our region’s past and the continuing journey to our future.


“Eight canoes will be supported above ground at various heights between five and 10 feet in the air. Each canoe is outlined in programmable RGB lights to create incredible effects of movement and color orchestrated to an amazing musical score,” said Brad McCombs.

SOTA students have been spending hours rehearsing the musical score while other students have helped assemble the installation, welding supports structures and applying ultraviolet designs on the canoes that are roughly 17 feet long. Thursday evening will premier Light Streams to the BLINK crowds, with the NKU Philharmonic Orchestra performing music by Bedřich Smetana, Miguel Roig-Francolí, and John Botter, a recent NKU Music alum.

“We wanted our music to help the installation come alive and also simulate the movement of water. The musicians, dressed in black below and around the canoes, will wear small blue lights on their bodies and instruments to reveal flowing movements as they perform,” said Amy Gillingham. “After the live performance, the other BLINK nights will feature a prerecorded sound track of the orchestra that will be  synchronized and programmed to the lights.” 

blink welding

“Part of the intent is that the piece could be enjoyed up close with details like the flowing patterns that will be intermittently activated with UV lights, as well as viewing the hovering illuminated canoes from across the river,” said Visual Communication Design professor, Hans Schellhas.

BLINK spans four days and takes place in downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, over more than 30 city blocks and crossing the historic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. No tickets are required. The event runs from Oct. 10-13, 7pm-11pm each night. Visit its website for all the details.

About NKU’s School of the Arts: SOTA is the Creative Engine of NKU. The School of the Arts combines Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts to bring unparalleled artistic opportunities to current and future students. In a changing world, SOTA prepares students to be creative trailblazers in the Arts and their careers. For more information about NKU’s School of the Arts, please visit

About NKU: Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 14,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit