Unusual UK Artwork at Children's Festival in Oakland

May 16, 2012

A structure that looks much like a playful moon bounce set up in Mazeroski Field on Oakland's Schenley Drive is actually an art sculpture.

The luminaria piece traveled from the United Kingdom to make an appearance at the 26th annual Pittsburgh International Children's Festival. Named the Mirazozo luminaria by its artist, Alan Parkinson, people of all ages can experience the structure. Shanti Freed, of Architects of Air, which has installed more than 500 inflatable art structures in 38 countries since 1992, said the artwork is meant to be appealing visually and audibly.

"It's designed as a place of relaxation, of beauty, to contemplate shape and color and you find that everyone has their own experience that they bring to it," Freed said. "Some people liken it to being inside a cathedral, others a mosque, others a spaceship."

Ambient sounds, created by David Bickley, are pumped into the feature that is filled with reds, blues, oranges, and all hues in between. Freed said the music does more than mask the outside sounds of traffic and restless children during the festival.

"It kind of transports you into another space, to relax you, and to remind you that it's a very sensory experience," Freed said.

Visitors must take off their shoes, adding another sensory factor to the piece, as they travel through tunnels filled with color illuminated by natural light.

Pam Lieberman, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater and Art Festival, describes the interactive sculpture as "amazing."

"It's inflated with air, you enter through an air lock," Lieberman said. "It's filled with passageways and chambers, and it's meant to be a contemplative immersive environment so you're going inside the sculpture."

The Children's Festival runs through May 20th and has exhibits throughout Oakland. The Mirazozo luminaria is traveling to several places throughout the country.