Look at how a single candle
can both defy and define the darkness.

Anne Frank

Throughout history, humanity has been given the option: feed the darkness or choose to create light. The task of creating light fell mostly to artists and religious leaders. Light has been used literally, figuratively, and metaphorically, all with the intent to show its infinite, eternal nature—its ethereal transcendence.

The interplay of dark and light has been a theme running from Greek and Roman sculpture to Renaissance painting to experimental film. Across cultures and eras, both architects and musicians have given it meaning in the peaks and valleys of their work. In the late 20th century, light art, or luminism, emerged: in these installations, light is the main medium of expression. 

Religions have also focused on the divine aspects of light. In Judaism, light is a symbol for God. In religious symbolism, light is often connected to our ability to see; sacred texts use the theme of blindness to describe those who are spiritually lost. 

Looking deeply into the flame of a candle bestows the ability to restore a whisper of hope—it connects immediately with our souls. After too many years of darkness, it’s time to begin to create light, in whatever form possible, again.

The Weather Project, Olafur Eliasson, 2003
Spirit Cloud, Xiaojing Yan, 2017
Saint-Pierre de Firminy, France, Le Corbusier, 2006.
Starlings, Menahem Kahana, Israel, 2016

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”
Rabindranath Tagore

Church of the Light, Tadao Ando, 1989
The Infinite Crystal, teamLab, 2018

“Light, alone, does not make light. There must be darkness for light to become light—resplendent with dignity and power.”
Tadao Ando

Between You and I, Anthony McCall, 2006

“What makes night within us may leave stars.”
Victor Hugo

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Approaching Shadow, Fan Ho, 1954
Double Vision, James Turrell, 2013
Ulrika Randel, 2018
Oberoi Udaivilas Palace, India

“A visionary is one who can find his way by moonlight and see the dawn before the rest of the world.”
Oscar Wilde

Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban, Bangladesh, Louis Kahn, 1982
“Bernadette Twirling,” Rodney Smith, 2007
HYBYCOZO, Hybycozo, 2014

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
Francis of Assisi

Grundtvig’s Church, Copenhagen, 1940
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Iran, 1619  

“It is your light that lights the worlds.”