The Solar Shrine

Chicago-based artist/architect Antwane Lee and his collaborators describe the Solar Shrine project:

The Solar Shrine is an Afrofuturistic, interactive art installation which is inspired by the magical realism of Ancient Egypt and Nubia. These two ancient cultures believed in Ra, the Sun God. Ra had metaphysical powers as the giver of life on Earth and creator of the universe. Ra was carried by the solar barque across the heavens during the day, assuming many manifestations. At night, the barque would then go through the underworld and different dimensions/realities, in preparation for Ra’s rebirth in the east. The ritual of the solar barque was simultaneously connected to the Ancient Egyptians and Nubians belief that darkness and death would transform their ancestors from being in the land of the living, to being reborn through Light or the Sun into other realms/dimensions of the afterlife.

The piece itself is comprised of three structures. The entrance is the gateway, a tower through which people can enter The Solar Shrine. Atop this tower are four giant poofers, blasting flames into the sky. At the nexus between these four points is a solar disk, illuminated by the sunrise in the East. The main structure is a two-story shrine/observatory with an altar on the ground level, housing a solar barque carrying a second solar disk, also illuminated at sunrise. A stairway leads up to a second floor, open to the sky, with four continuously lit fire torches. The third structure is a shorter monument, housing the fuel needed. These three pieces together give the participants a way to experience the journey from the past, into the present, giving a vision of the future.

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