Richmond Story House
An Experience at InLight
Guest post by: Leslie Brown, RSH Board Member
It was a dark and windy night and I found myself crunching through the leaves along
Broad Street to the InLight annual outdoor artshow. This year’s show was perched over the city in Chimborazo Park and spoke to our/the Park’s conjoined past as both the largest Confederate hospital and a post-Emancipation Freedman’s community. It seemed fitting that brightly lit, each piece moved you physically from dark to light and you cautiously navigated the distance between pieces while walking through the unlit park. For me, walking by myself, it was largely a solo activity with each piece experienced on my own.
The Richmond Storyhouse/Milk RiverArts installation glowed more softly than others… a small and fragile train car golden in the dark. An arbor framed in miniature lit lanterns was our tunnel filled with words about memory. Through the tunnel you came to the train car whose window created a screen for shadow puppets. There in the dark, you could easily imagine that instead of high atop Chimborazo Hill, we were hundreds of feet below, standing along the tracks watching the past as the train moved through the tunnel dark as our night. When the puppet show started, people stopped to listen, gather and witness together the story of those trapped or killed by the tunnel collapse back in 1925. Together we heard about their lives before that day…much like ours filled with family, chores, love, breakfast and hope. The puppets glided across our window into the past and with details of their lives, who didn’t wish for a different, happier ending for each story? But in the end, it was a wonderful remembrance. Could they, back in 1925, have imagined this show? Could they have imagined their lives would be remembered by groups of total strangers? That their history would be part of our history now… lit up on a dark and windy night?