This Thursday marked the beginning of the eighth annual Light in Winter Festival of Arts & Sciences, where members of the Ithaca community gathered to celebrate the creativity of scientific discovery and artistic expression.
Marie Sirakos, executive director of the Light in Winter Festival, said the organization has established traditions in creating collaborations and in inviting people to Ithaca to address their curiosities in regards to the natural world and themselves.
“Our general goal is to illuminate information for folks and to be able to present it in a way that’s accessible and entertaining, and of course to explore those ways that arts and sciences can illuminate one another,” she said.
The Light in Winter Festival showcases explorations of cutting-edge ideas to festival participants. Through interactive presentations including lectures, panel discussions, dance, music, workshops and multi-media spectacles, the festival not only engages but also educates the community.
Sirakos said Barbara Mink, festival founder, was inspired by using the mix of subjects to bring more tourism to Tompkins County.
“She was becoming aware of a phenomenon called ‘edutourism’ – the idea people would travel places to learn things and have adventures – and she’s always been interested in that nexus point between science and art,” Sirakos said.
Presenters and participants alike can discover the intersection of the different topics, if not an entirely new method for using the distinct areas to explain common themes.
On Saturday, theoretical astrophysicist Lawrence M. Kraus explored science in his novel, “Physics of Star Trek.” Kraus explained the scientific premise of the popular culture phenomenon and discussed how actual physics would work inside the world of Star Trek.
On Sunday, Trekkies flocked to the interactive stage show “Star Trek Live!” which allowed children and adults to explore science and role-play, becoming cadets at Starfleet Academy. Also, foodies were able to enjoy when artist Dana Salsbury hosted a four-course meal paired with fine wine while fully immersed in darkness.
The festival not only gives presenters the opportunity to showcase their talents and passions, but also gives venues around Ithaca a chance to welcome the community to their locations. This way, festival participants can truly experience the marriage of arts and sciences and can develop valuable community partnerships.
Sirakos said Thursday night’s event at the Museum of the Earth was one of the festival’s great successes. With wine tasting and cheese pairing followed by a performance from science comedian Tim Lee, who blends stand-up and science using PowerPoint presentations, participants were able to experience the festival’s thematic fusion in a local museum.
“That’s just the sort of experience that’s memorable and enjoyable to our audiences, and that’s what we hope to do and accomplish,” Sirakos said.