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Meet the Creator Behind the Illuminated Living Art Experience Headed to NOLA [Interview]

Something *lit* is coming to New Orleans! The interactive event, GLOW: An Illuminated Living Art Experience, is bringing illuminated art created with actual, living bioluminescent bacteria next Thursday, October 10. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime interactive experience from 6pm-10pm at Zeitgeist Theatre, located at 6621 St. Claude Avenue. In addition to the interactive event, her photo exhibit is running in conjunction from  October 5 – November 28. 

The artist behind the event and photo exhibit, Hunter Cole, will be photographing guests interacting with the living light pieces throughout the evening on the 10th. The photographs captured will later be available for purchase as Hunter Cole originals on her website. For more information on the event and to RSVP, head here.

Who exactly is Hunter Cole, and how did she create a piece of art that is both interactive and beautiful?

Check out our interview with her below!


River Beats New Orleans: Hi Hunter! Thanks for chatting with us here at River Beats New Orleans today. Your work is amazing. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Hunter Cole: “My name is Hunter Cole. I am an artist and a scientist in the Biology Department at Loyola University New Orleans. I grew up in San Francisco. I came to Madison, WI for graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I taught in the Milwaukee area for a couple of years. Then I taught at Loyola University Chicago for 14 years. Now I am in New Orleans for family, great culture and weather.”

When did you become your career as both a scientist and as an artist? How did you manage to combine the two? 

I was exposed to art and science very young. I remember many weekends in Golden Gate Park where my Dad would take me both to the Academy of Sciences Museum and the de Young Museum right across from each other. In my early career I more seriously studied science.

At the same time in undergrad at U.C. Berkeley, to my great surprise I had one of my drawings published on the cover of a literary journal and one of my photographs published on the inside. I enjoyed making art, but did not take it seriously at that time. In the middle of graduate school on a trip to Paris with my Dad when I saw paintings at the Musee d’Orsay, I had an epiphany that I wanted to turn my drawings into paintings.”

When you first intertwined science with art, how did you feel? What was that experience of creating something so unique like?


“In the middle of graduate school, the paintings I created were biomorphic. They looked like living cells and organisms. I loved creating them. There is feeling of happiness I get while creating art. […]”

How do you create the bioluminescent effects for your living art pieces? 

I grow a liquid culture of the bacteria overnight which acts as my paint. The next day, I use a paint brush, Q-tip or loop to draw on the Petri dish.  The day after that, they are their brightest. It takes of lot of work and timing to make a big installation of Petri dishes. I used different exposure times to get different effects.”

What is your favorite types of living art pieces to create? 

This will be my first massive installation. I am looking forward to it being my favorite.  I have all my dancers now. I still have to line up more help. It is a bit like directing a movie.”

Where can someone purchase your work, if interested? 

All of my prints of bioluminescent art are signed and numbered archival inkjet prints that are a limited edition of 20. Once the 20 prints are sold, no more will be sold.  You can purchase them here.”

When and where is your upcoming interactive art exhibit? What can people expect as an “interactive” art event? 

“My upcoming exhibit titled GLOW: An Illuminated Living Art Experience will take place on Thursday, October 10, 6 – 10 pm at the  Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Guests will have the opportunity to walk into the darkened theatre illuminated by never-before- seen art created with actual, living bioluminescent bacteria and interact with dancers wearing  “glowing art” costumes.”

Anything else you’d like to add for readers? 

Think of the bioluminescence seen while are swimming in Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico. Think of the bioluminescence in the movies Avatar and Life of Pi. GLOW: An Illuminated Living Art Experience will be a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience to see bioluminescence live. My full portfolio is hereThank you for your time and interest! It is most appreciated!”

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