Art installation lights up historic Dutch Church

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 7/20/22

City residents, supporters, friends and other creative minds gathered at the Dutch Reformed Church to witness and celebrate Forcefield, a new large scale art installation created and designed by …

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Art installation lights up historic Dutch Church

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City residents, supporters, friends and other creative minds gathered at the Dutch Reformed Church to witness and celebrate Forcefield, a new large scale art installation created and designed by Newburgh artist Liz Nielsen. This is Nielsen’s first ever public installation and it will be on display from July 15 to Sept. 30 from sunset to midnight every night.

“This has been a long time in the making. I’ve come to this building [the Dutch Reformed Church] many times just to look at this building and feel inspiration from it,” Nielsen said. “It has such a historic presence. It reminds me of the Pantheon, it reminds me of the Parthenon. It’s just got a lot of energy to it.”

The art installation featured a series of lights that were wrapped around the building, creating a glowing forcefield that was paired with the sounds of faint heartbeats that could be heard as the lights were in movement. It was though the sound of the heartbeats were the heartbeats of the building itself. The site for Nielsen’s installation as mentioned was the Dutch Reformed Church located at 134 Grand Street.

The church was built and created in 1835 in a style known as Greek Revival by the late Alexander Jackson Davis and is currently a National Historic Landmark. “This piece is a connection to the community here. This building is really powerful,” Nielsen said.

According to her official website, liznielsen.com, Nielsen received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Spanish from Seattle University in 1997. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002 and received her Masters in Fine Arts in 2004 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. “I’ve been working as an artist for 20 years and I work with light primarily. I work with light as a experimental photographer and so I record light onto paper but without a camera. I count wavelengths. I’m a little bit of a mad scientist,” Nielsen said. “This project also includes light and includes my ideas which are connected to quantum physics in terms of manifestation and bringing in things from the quantum field.”

Working and based out of Brooklyn, Nielsen came to Newburgh six years ago through an Orange County Arts Council grant and connected with STRONGROOM, who hosted the installation reception. STRONGROOM was founded by Newburgh resident Kelly Schroer and is a non-for-profit organization based in Newburgh that provides contemporary art installations and pieces along with additional programming for the community at large. Previous projects included the usage of the former City Club building for an outdoor project titled Martin Roth that offered residents to enter and listen to a musical performance created by the vegetation growing within the building.

Speaking on the project itself and seeing the gathered crowd awaiting the installation, Nielsen expressed gratitude for all those who came and for STRONGROOM’s support in this project and for the hopeful takeaway of her art. “My hope is that it just, it brings attention in a positive way to Newburgh and it brings us as a community together,” Nielsen said. “Hopefully there’s, you know, even the idea of what we want to do as a community to revitalize certain buildings or places or spaces or communities here.”

At around 9 p.m. the sun had set and the entire building lit up with a bright blue lit force field surrounding the entirety of the building.

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