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Updated: Apr 14, 2022

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose

Celebrate Illuminating LIGHT at Cameron Art Museum this Holiday Season as the sparkle and magic of the holidays become center stage. The museum will host a variety of events that bring visual art, community, craft, and reflection together in a celebration of light that sparkles all throughout the holiday season.

Written by Amanda Lisk

Photos by Alan Cradick

ILLUMINATION 2021 Rebirth + Renewal EXHIBITION Dec.3, 2019 – Jan. 9, 2020

In its sixth year, the museum’s annual Illumination Exhibition ignites with a party followed by the opening of the exhibition showcasing the element of light through the eye of the artist. Illumination 2021 Rebirth + Renewal, will showcase over 40 artist-made lanterns exploring themes of hope as well as trepidation connected to our collective pandemic experience.

CAM received a record number of submissions when the call-to-artists went out over the summer and had a difficult time narrowing it down. Many local Wilmington and North Carolina artists are well represented alongside work from artists from as far away as Illinois, Virginia, and Texas.

With titles such as “The New Normal”, “Ultimate Home Makeover”, “Star of Hope” and “The Awakening of Spring”, visitors will walk amongst lighted sculptures created in a variety of mediums and sizes that fill CAM’s Brown Wing Gallery with light. Some are hanging, some rest on pedestals, while others invite viewers to walk around them on the floor.

Over 40 artists are competing for 3 cash prizes totaling $1,500 which will be announced at the opening. This year’s eclectic group of judges include: WECT’s and Fox Wilmington’s Ashlea Kosikowski, Penguin Radio’s Beau Gunn, UNCW Art professors and artists Anne Lindberg, Gene Felice and Donald Furst, D. Baxter’s Lamp Shop’s own Debbie Baxter, Port City Daily’s Editor Shea Carter and Kimberly Cheatham from UNCW’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

Cameron Art Museum is thrilled to be working with a great group of judges with deep ties to the Wilmington community. The Wilmington community itself is also invited to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award to be awarded later during the run of the exhibition.

FLOATING LANTERNS CEREMONY Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022 from 4PM to 7PM

To continue the theme of light and expression through lanterns, Cameron Art Museum also invites the community to take part in the highly popular floating lantern ceremony, this year to be held the evening of Jan. 9, 2021.

“We wanted to create a meaningful tradition here for the holidays to include everyone in the community,” said Nan Pope of the Cameron Art Museum.

Much like a scene from the Disney movie, Tangled, lighted lanterns created by members of the community are placed in the museum’s outside reflecting pond and beautifully illuminate the evening as live music plays and guests enjoy hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows by the fire pits. The event draws several hundred to watch and the more than 500 lanterns afloat. Lantern sleeves can be purchased at the museum to decorate. They are then placed atop a wooden base the museum staff makes and float in the reflecting pond at the ceremony with a candle.

“We use the words remembrance, reflection and gratitude, it’s a chance for people to honor someone special who has passed away or is still with them,” says Pope. “It’s always special to see many come in groups like three generations, a parent, a grandparent and a child together who spend a lot of time and thought decorating their lantern sleeves,” Pope says.

With January being the start of a new year and a new decade this year, the lanterns are a special way to toast the future.

“It can be reflective or a way to express one’s hopes and dreams for the new year,” says Pope.


Runs Dec. 3, 2021 – Jan. 9, 2022

Submitted lantern creations by artists on display in the Brown wing.


Sunday Jan. 9, 2022 4:00PM – 7:00PM

Lantern sleeves to decorate available for purchase now $12 through Jan. 8 and $15 on the day of the event.

Admission to the ceremony is free, but the museum does accept donations.

Live music, hot chocolate, drinks and food available for purchase

Floating starts at 5:00 PM


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