The Mississippi Light Collaborative, which is the brainchild of local artist Anik Kurkjian (the "Light Lady") shares the first-floor space at the Mississippi School of Architecture downtown, where fifth-year students go to complete their degrees.
"The idea was that the students come from Starkville, and they come to Jackson, where most of the practitioners are," Jassen Callendar, who is the director of the downtown location, says. "This last year is focused on urban design and professional practice, so they get to meet the local practitioners. ... The bulk of the architects in the state are in this city, so it's an opportunity to know them and get jobs and (for) us to bring them in as adjuncts or critics on projects."
When Kurkjian, a Brighton, U.K., native, first arrived in Jackson, she had a contract with the Mississippi Museum of Art to be the designer and producer for its "Mapping a Modern Mississippi" initiative. She left in November 2016 to pursue Mississippi Light Collaborative, which resulted in the first annual Mississippi Light Festival in 2017.
When she first had the idea for the festival, she thought the only person who would understand the concept was an architect, so she met with Callendar. When he learned that the Mississippi Light Collaborative didn't have a space, he offered to let her use the first floor of the building. They held an opening event for the space on Thursday, Feb. 1.
"(Aspects like the lightwell) are the things that always inspire people when they come in the front door," he says.
On the top floor, large desk areas with blueprints, designs, cardboard models and more snake through the halls. The second floor houses offices and classrooms. Callendar says that most of the wood flooring in the building is original, and a few of the walls have exposed bricks and paint layers.
"It's just beautiful, the light that trickles through this place," Kurkjian says.
For more information about the Mississippi Light Collaborative, visit mslightcollaborative.com or find the organization on Facebook.