A Conversation with Gowri Savoor, Visual-Teaching Artist and Leader of Cary’s First Community Lantern Parade

Gowri Savoor

On Jan. 15, the streets of Cary will shine a little brighter as the town celebrates its first community lantern parade, Under the Silver Moon. Presented by the Academy Street Artwork Projects and led by internationally renowned visual-teaching artist Gowri Savoor, the parade is preceded by a series of lantern-making community workshops held at the Cary Arts Center.

In anticipation of this unique and collaborative event, we caught up with Savoor, a teaching artist for over 20 years and founder of A River of Light, an organization committed to bringing art to the community through participatory art events, parades and installations.

You have lived and worked in many places – what brought you to North Carolina?

I moved to Cary in the autumn of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. We had been residing in Vermont for over a decade, but I was born in England, where I spent most of my life. Vermont was beautiful, but we were ready for a change. We had friends in Cary, so decided to take the plunge; once we arrived, there was no turning back.

How did the idea for this parade come to fruition?

Moving to a new town can be hard, especially for a self-employed artist. After settling in, I contacted a few local arts organizations and told them about my work organizing lantern parades, in the hope that they might be interested in hosting an event to celebrate the end of the pandemic. Community art, collaboration and teaching are all important to me and I was keen to make some connections and share the work that I love to do. Denise Dickens at the Town of Cary really warmed to the idea of a community celebration as part of the GLOW festival and that’s how we began to plan Cary’s first lantern parade, Under the Silver Moon.

How would you describe a lantern walk?

Walking in a lantern parade is an event like no other — it’s a beautiful, visceral experience that connects to the heart of the human spirit. Light is celebrated on every continent across the globe, so it’s an event that transcends religion, culture or language. Whether friends and strangers are walking shoulder-to-shoulder in a parade, or watching and cheering from the sidelines, everyone has a contributing part to play. Lantern parades occur at night when the streets are safely closed, so community members can participate in a safe, family friendly event that connects us to our public spaces. The combination of art, music, light and joy cannot only be thrilling, but empowering. It’s hard not to get emotional.

Are the lantern workshops difficult?

Lantern workshops are not difficult at all. The lanterns we teach are made from sustainable materials and are age-appropriate so there’s a lantern style for every ability. Workshops are fully guided and supported, so it’s a safe and fun environment to learn a new skill.

We invite everyone to attend Cary’s inaugural community lantern parade, Under the Silver Moon, and if you haven’t had an opportunity to build a lantern in our workshop program, get creative and make one at home. Illuminate it with an inexpensive battery-operated LED light, hang it on a stick, and join us on the streets Saturday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. The parade will leave from Fidelity Plaza at 6:15 p.m.

For more information about the Under the Silver Moon parade and its workshops, visit the Town of Cary’s website.

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