October 1, 2023

Students work eagerly together, covered in paint, to create an advent calendar and construct an abstract hourglass for this year’s sculptures for the Mission Inn’s  Hotel & Spa’s Festival of Lights.

Riverside’s Festival of Lights is an annual tradition where attendees celebrate the holidays with food and entertainment while witnessing the historic Mission Inn covered in millions of lights and Christmas decorations.

The Festival of Lights brings in thousands of locals and tourists each year and began its festivities with an official lighting Nov. 23, and will be displayed until Jan. 6.

For the past three years, the fall semester of  CBU’s (ART 300) Advanced Art class  has come together to design a sculpture  placed downtown for the community to see.

Kristi Lippire, associate professor of visual art, oversees the project and helps guide her students through the creative process.

“Students learn to problem -solve as a group, offering suggestions to help other students achieve their vision,” Lippire said. “What we get out of these new sculptures and other community interactive installations we build is the visible joy in others from being able to experience our hard work.”

Each student designs his or her own sculpture concept and the class decides which sculpture to build. Usually, the class only makes one sculpture but this year, the class decided to create two.

The first sculpture was designed by Monica Preciado, senior early childhood studies major, and features a large advent calendar of boxes painted as Christmas presents. Each student from the class decorated his or her own box.

The second sculpture was designed by Alexandra Degortari, senior fine art major and resembles an hourglass of icicles frozen in time with LED lights.

Degortari said it is an honor to have her design displayed.

“The meaning behind this piece was to represent the stopping of time because the holiday season is always here and then gone in a blink of an eye,” Degortari said.

“I feel as though the arts are finally starting to emerge again within institutions so to be a part of it, to help it grow and to be known is a blessing in itself.”

Preciado said this project has helped boost her confidence while creating art.

“I personally gained the confidence to make a bigger piece of art come to life outside of just my sketchbook,” Preciado said. “I started digging deeper on my take of art and have gained the courage to create more art even if it doesn’t make sense or if it doesn’t come out based on what I had in mind.”

The Festival of Lights is an opportunity for student work to be displayed and the creative process helps students further their skills.

Celia Hinzman, senior fine art major and teaching assistant for Advanced Art, said this project helps students have creative freedom.

“Each year is completely different from the last. We, as a class, are not required to pick from a specific theme so it keeps the design ideas new and fun,” Hinzman said.

The students’ hard work is shown through their sculptures and the CBU community will anticipate what next year’s class will create. The sculptures will be displayed on Lime Street next to the Riverside Art Museum for the entirety of the festival. The festival will last until Jan. 6, 2019.

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