Hopscotch: Light and Sound art exhibit brings light, playfulness to Austin community

Celesia Smith

An interactive art exhibit featuring bright colors, flashing lights, an adult-sized ball pit and an indoor thunderstorm has taken over Airport Boulevard.

Open from Feb. 13 to March 31, Hopscotch: Light and Sound boasts 13 distinctive art installations created by local, national and international artists. Hopscotch encourages guests to put experience over objects by interacting with the exhibit through touching, listening to or even screaming at the art on display.

Hopscotch co-founder Nicole Jensen said she wants the experience, which takes about an hour, to be one that relieves stress and fills guests with wonder and joy. The exhibit is open Thursday through Sunday and after 7 p.m., guests must be 18 or older to attend.

“We want people to come in and forget their troubles and ignore everything else and go back to that nostalgic peace of when you were a kid and things were easier,” Jensen said. “We want to tie into that carefree vibe that adults don’t always get to have anymore.”

Malika Boudissa, Hopscotch project manager and producer, said the installation brings about playfulness and encourages deeper thought.

“The depth and the thought and the technical aspects of the installations are all different,” Boudissa, who also worked on sound design, said. “You might go in and wonder, ‘How is this made? What’s gone down behind the scenes?’ But also, ‘Hey, that’s a ball pit and I’m going to jump into it to have fun!’”

Hopscotch provides a rare opportunity for artists who primarily do light and sound-based work in that it allows them to showcase their art to a large, public audience. Boudissa said Hopscotch is special to her for this very reason.

“(Hopscotch) brings a platform for work to be shown and for there to be an opportunity for local artists to work on installations,” Boudissa said. “There aren’t a surplus of finished out warehouses (in Austin).”

Some UT students were also involved in the behind-the-scenes work. Mechanical engineering sophomore Matthew Freeman said the UT Center for Integrated Design introduced him to Hopscotch. As a result, Freeman was able to help with the setup of the exhibits.

“I got to see the skeleton of (the show) before it was all put together and I was already like, ‘Wow, this is already so cool,’ and then came back a few days later and I was just as in awe,” Freeman said. “I have such an appreciation for the work that brought it to life.”

Freeman, who now works as a host at the exhibit, said students should come to the show to get an appreciation for the unique, engaging art offered by Hopscotch.

“Most people think of art galleries as just seeing a painting on a wall, but the Hopscotch experience is immersive and interactive,” Freeman said. “It’s an art form that I have never experienced before and I think most people haven’t experienced, but should.”