History of Winterlights: A Circle of Peace

In fall 2016, as he recovered from a car accident that summer, Mark Schafer set about making “Dream Birch Trees,” an installation based on a vision he had had a few years before of the birch trees from his childhood in Acton, MA, radiating light out of the many cracks in its bark. Working out of his temporary art studio at the Hawthorne Youth & Community Center, Schafer assembled the two hollow trunks out of bark harvested from around New England and then hung strings of Christmas tree lights inside each one. On December 19, 2016, he debuted the installation, where they shone in front of HYCC every night for a month.

Breathing with Lights

Three and a half years later, in the depths of the COVID pandemic, HYCC approached Schafer to see if you could do another light installation for the approaching dark of winter. Inspired by the early Mac Book sleep mode “breathing” light, and with the help of Kalamu Kieta, Schafer conceived of a new, bigger light installation in the field next door at 184 Highland Street, where the Holy Trinity German Catholic Church of Boston, had stood until it was burned down in the 1970s or 80s. When Kieta had to withdraw from the project, neighbor Yvon Augustin joined Schafer and they formed the Roxbury Electric Illumination Collaborative to create the installation for HYCC and the people of Highland Park.

“Dream Birch Trees” at the Hawthorne Youth and Community Center (January 7, 2017)

The first version of the light installation in the field at 184 Highland Street in Roxbury)


Sitemap , Sketches layout of the circle of trees that are wrapped with LED lights. The Winterlights: A Circle of Peace a public art light installation for Roxbury’s Highland Park neighborhood the field at 184 Highland Street (next to HYCC).

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