In November 2015, she decided to devote herself full-time to a new endeavor—the Mississippi Light Festival. The event will use the European-style light festival platform to highlight the creativity in the state in the areas of art, technology and other innovations.
"I launched this project initially because I was looking for a place to showcase my own design work, even though, as it stands, I won't actually have any of my art on display at the festival this time," she says.
As of press time, more than 100 local artists have already signed up to take part in the festival, collaborating on projects such as light-based sculptures, wall projections, costumes, furniture, deejay performances with light shows set to music, and three-dimensional projection mapping, which involves putting a large-scale projection around an entire building to make it appear to change form.
Kurkjian says those planning to attend the festival can create their own light designs and art pieces centered on the concept of light, which will be displayed in a community do-it-yourself
"Mississippians are an innovative people, and we want to showcase all the fabulous, creative people in this state and what they're doing," she says.
Beyond showcasing the arts, the Mississippi Light Festival also aims to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and industries in the state. One prominent feature will be what Kurkjian calls a "STEAM" lab, which is "STEM with art," she says.
In the lab, local scientists, technologists and programmers will host workshops and help visitors create art with light through chemistry, electricity and programming. While the area will be geared toward educating children, Kurkjian says it will also work to raise awareness in the constantly growing STEM industries for adults.
The festival will take place in the Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art, as well as in and around the surrounding buildings such as the Jackson Convention Complex, the Arts Center of Mississippi, Thalia Mara Hall and the Russell C. Davis Planetarium. They will all host workshops, tech talks and interactive art exhibits.
The festival will also feature local food trucks and an on-site bar that will serve light-themed food and drinks.
While Kurkjian says she expects a bit of a learning curve for everyone, given the size of the event, she plans to organize another installment of the Mississippi Light Festival each year.
She will also be launching a year-long program called Mississippi Light Education, which will organize talks throughout Jackson and workshops at places such as The Hatch in midtown, discussing various aspects of light, from its aesthetics to its history.
The Mississippi Light Festival, which Kurkjian's business, Mississippi Light Collaborations, is hosting, will take place Feb. 24, 2017, starting at 6 p.m. The event is free to attend. To participate, volunteer or offer financial support, email firstname.lastname@example.org For more information, find the festival on Facebook.