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Annual After-dark Arts Event Illumine to Light up Oakland this April

Illumine, Historic Oakland Foundation’s annual after-dark arts event, returns to Oakland Cemetery this April with new history to uncover, new sections of the cemetery to explore, and all-new artistic installations set against the inspiring backdrop of Atlanta’s skyline.

As the sun sets and the Cemetery is transformed, visitors will enjoy exploring Oakland’s Original Six Acres, North Public Grounds, Bell Tower Ridge, historic African American Burial Grounds, and 1908 Women’s Comfort Station, all of which will be illuminated by local artists under the direction of the event’s creative director, Cooper Sanchez. Throughout the Cemetery, innovatively lit headstones, mausolea, flowers, trees, and buildings will showcase Oakland Cemetery’s history and exquisite spring gardens along with the Foundation’s restoration efforts.

This year’s Illumine will especially shine a light on the recently restored historic African American Burial Grounds and 1908 Women’s Comfort Station. Through light, shadow, texture, and sound, Illumine will share the stories of Black Atlantans who built and shaped the city from its origins as a railroad crossing to its arrival as a global city. Within the African American Burial Grounds, visitors will discover how an investigation of Oakland’s now-unmarked graves shines a light on 19th century African American burial practices, how Oakland’s physical landscape was shaped by the class and racial issues of the day, and how the photography of Victorian-era luminary Thomas Askew (an Oakland resident) unveils a rich tableau of middle and upper-class African American life in Atlanta.

Illumine will also feature live music, craft cocktails, and an Oakland pop-up shop.

“We are delighted by the return of Illumine after two years, and we look forward to sharing the hidden stories of Oakland set within the splendor of the spring gardens,” says Mary Fernandez, director of special events, special projects, and volunteers at Historic Oakland Foundation. “This year’s event runs for an extended two weekends, and it features a longer route with new areas to explore and to be brought to life.”

Tickets to Illumine 2022 are on sale now at Eventbrite. In 2019, Illumine welcomed more than 5,000 visitors to the historic cemetery. Because each evening of Illumine 2022 has a limited number of tickets, those interested are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

All proceeds from Illumine support Historic Oakland Foundation’s mission to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery in partnership with the City of Atlanta. Learn more about the event.

A few scenes from Illumine 2019.

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