Suzi Starheim | Staff Writer
Light is a part of everyone’s daily life, regardless of age, religion or location.
Noah Craft sees the beauty and inspiration in this universality of light. This is what led him to enter and become a finalist in the Philips 2011 Light World Tour, a competition that allows one person with a passion for lighting to travel for three months finding new lighting inspirations.
“It’s an applied art that people use in their home,” he said. “It’s a universal language; that’s what I’m very interested in with this world tour, during my travels globally, is finding how people connect with that and how they identify it.”
Currently, Craft is in his second season with Chautauqua Theater Company working as the electrician and light board operator. He said working with CTC has taught him a lot about good theater and lighting work.
“To work with people like that and see the kind of work they do, for me, as an up-and-coming professional in the world, is inspiring, and it’s a great learning opportunity,” Craft said. “It’s been fun to work with a theater that’s doing high-quality work.”
Craft got started in technical theater in high school, leading him to choose his major — lighting, sound and scenic design — at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He graduated in December 2010.
While studying in Duluth, Craft worked for the Renegade Theater Company as its resident lighting designer and technical director for three years. The experience Craft gained high school theater and with the Renegade Theater Company taught him to appreciate the way light interacts with its surroundings.
“Most often, when you see light as an art form, it’s light interacting with objects rather than light itself,” Craft said. “That’s just so fascinating to me in a theatrical sense. I think it’s one of the only artistic media that is considered visual art but is an actual medium. Light is your medium, as a completely intangible thing, because it’s completely invisible to the naked eye.”
Craft’s love of and fascination with light also was reaffirmed several years ago during an exchange program to Turkey as part of a group of students performing the musical “Footloose.”
“I realized more and more it’s a universal language of how people understand that,” he said. “It’s everywhere all the time, and it’s so practical.”
Craft said he initially discovered the lighting competition through social media websites and contacts in the industry.
“I saw it and thought, ‘Wow. That is insanely cool. I would love to do that,’” Craft said. “If I didn’t at least try and go after this, I would probably kick myself, so I just figured I’d give it a shot.”
He entered the competition at the end of June, which required an online application, a short self-bio and information about why lighting inspires him. He currently is ranked ninth internationally and first in the United States in the competition.
Voting for the competitors is open until Aug. 8; judges will then select a winner from the top 10 in the compeition on Aug. 11.
The winner of the 2011 Philips Light World Tour will travel for three months, from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. The location and itinerary of the tour also can be voted on at the competition’s website, http://www.lightworldtour.com.
Currently, Craft is in the process of getting votes to keep his spot in the top 10.
“It’s actually quite the job to keep up with,” Craft said. “It’s stressful really, trying to get people to vote for you.”
Craft said winning this competition would open his eyes to the universal meaning of light to individuals abroad. It also would give him new inspirations and ways to see lighting.
“I think as a professional, it would broaden my scope and my understanding of art and culture and how those interact via my medium especially,” Craft said. “It’s a neat opportunity for the lighting and arts community to send somebody around the world to be an ambassador for light.”