The Hughes Project:Sharon Huizinga

The Hughes Project

Sharon Huizinga
Creator / Project Advisor

April 2021

The Hughes Project is a collaboration between Hughes STEM High School art students and University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Theatre Design & Production students to project artwork created by both groups that considers visions of self and the future onto the façade of the beautiful and historic Hughes High School building. 

How do you describe your work to people not in our industry?

I teach Lighting Design and Technology at a really cool program full of motivated, talented, creative and fun students. I also include a significant media component because that’s interesting to me, and a crucial part of almost every live event these days and so a crucial part of what I believe students should be exposed to. A large part of my job is creating opportunities for the students to explore and to shine. Some of those opportunities are baked into our curriculum with an opera/dance/acting/musical theatre production season. Some of those opportunities are things I think up that I believe will be creatively and technically interesting as well as professionally applicable.

What drew you to this project?

1. Amazing building, absolutely calling to be lit, mapped, projected upon and otherwise bathed in photons.
2. Incredible opportunity for CCM students to explore projection onto large buildings, lighting buildings, using Disguise, and doing really creative and technically challenging work during Covid
3. The collaborative opportunity to work with high school students and bring many groups together. I am always on the lookout for projects that bring together the greatest number of people from the greatest number of backgrounds to do really cool stuff that is mutually beneficial. This project was all of that to the max.

This project was envisioned by me, but created by CCM Lighting Design and Technology students (with huge help from our TDs) and Hughes high school students. I am constantly blown away by the next generation's massive creativity. This would not have been possible without the help Vincent Lighting Services, Prestige AV, and Lightborne Communications. This is a generous and interconnected industry. Deep appreciation for every part of the eco system.
Sharon Huizinga
Creator / Project Advisor

Was there a 'never again' moment or a 'all gigs should be like this' moment?

Spring in Cincinnati is unpredictable. This project loaded in on April 1, programmed overnight and then was live the evening of April 2. The morning of APril 1 the temperature went from somewhere in the 60s to well below freezing. If memory serves it was below 0 degrees (Farenheit). It snowed, which was better than rain, but at 3am when myself and students were huddled around a propane heater under the front steps of the High School, I did wonder if this was all a terrible idea. It is the coldest I have ever been, including many backcountry ski adventures.

Sharon has been a lighting designer, programmer and educator for over 20 years, living and working around the world and in many different areas of our industry.

She has just relocated to Cincinnati after living in Amsterdam for the last four years where she was up to various things including working for the Dutch National Opera & Ballet, for ETC as the Field Project Coordinator for Northern Europe, lecturing for the Academy voor Theatre en Dance Amsterdam and designing lighting, projection and scenery for multiple European/Russian tours with Deva Premal & Miten.
There were also American and Canadian chapters that included lots of lighting design for theatre and dance, some Olympics and Paralympics, some NYC and Broadway, some Detroit Auto show, one tiny house built, and being Lighting Director for the Home States Ball at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.
Touring Credits include Designs for Diana Krall, Jesse Cook, Lighting Direction for Norah Jones, Ballet British Columbia, more technical things for Cirque Du Soleil, some production management, some years as a booking agent covering US/Can/Mexico and enough experience on the promoter’s side to know that those guys work really hard.

She is currently head of the MFA lighting program at University of Cincinnati’s CCM.