Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson.
We listen to holiday music …
a listener question about snowfall in the United States …
report about some special lights at a museum that help make the season
bright, even underground.
Leo Villareal's Light Sculpture
During the Christmas season in Washington, D.C., you
can see bright lights on many homes, buildings and trees. A new work at the
National Gallery of Art is adding to this magical season of lights. Artist Leo
Villareal has created an artwork with forty-one thousand small flashing lights.
"Multiverse" gives museum visitors an exciting way to see and experience art. Barbara
Klein tells us more.
Villareal is known for making art that inventively combines light and computer
programming. About three years ago, the
National Gallery of Art asked him to design a light sculpture for the
underground passage connecting the museum's two buildings. His work, called
"Multiverse," opened in November.
transformed the wall and ceiling of the sixty-meter long area into a surface
made up of thousands of blinking lights. These very small lights are called
light-emitting diodes, or L.E.Ds.
the tunnel is like entering a magical and mysterious world. The lights surrounding
you turn on and off in a complex series of patterns. Sometimes all the lights
seem to be on. Then they fade into a new formation. The lights look like
dancing stars in a night sky. Or they look like expanding moons. Or like cell
organisms dividing into new forms.
Visitors walk through the tunnel, or they stand on a moving electric
walkway to enjoy the light display. It is also fun to watch other people's
reactions to the art. Some people smile with praise. Others stop in their path
out of total wonder.
Leo Villareal designed a computer program that controls
the lights. He first began exploring light, sound and video while he was
studying theater design and sculpture at Yale University in Connecticut. He
later continued his studies in new media and computing in art school at New
York University. He lives in New York City.
Villareal has designed other light sculptures for the inside and outside of
buildings. But "Multiverse" is his largest and most complex project so far. The
work will remain at the National Gallery until November of next year.
Our VOA listener question comes from Shenzhen,
China. Simbo wants to know about
snowfall and winter storms in the United States.
The United States has an average of one hundred snowstorms
every year. These storms usually produce
snow for two to five days. It has snowed
in almost every part of the country at one time or another although it is much
less common in the southern states. But,
last week as much as twenty centimeters of the white stuff fell across the
three southern coastal states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
In the far northern part of the country, Americans have
battled deep snow and powerful winds.
Such blizzards are common in the area known as the Great Plains of South
Dakota and North Dakota. Minnesota also
got hit. Temperatures were far below freezing.
And the wind has made the snow blow so hard and fast that it was
sometimes impossible to see.
the northeastern United States, people are facing another kind of winter
problem. Last week, the New England states were hit by a terrible ice
storm. Hundreds of thousands of people
were forced to leave their homes because of power outages. Tens of thousands remain without power in the
states of New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and New York.
Around the nation, there are reports of at least ten
weather related deaths. And winter is
just beginning. Snow and other winter
weather cause hundreds of deaths in the United States every year. Traffic accidents on snowy or icy roads cause
many of them. Other deaths are the
result of severe cold or heart attacks from extreme physical activity like
storms can be dangerous. People should
stay in their homes during snow storms. They
should take short rests while clearing snow.
And people should have supplies like extra blankets, water, food and
special power devices before a storm hits. You can learn more about snow on the
Special English program Science in the News on December thirtieth.
African beats, jazzy rhythms and country guitars can be
found among the sounds of the new Christmas albums this year. So can voices clear as a Christmas bell,
smooth as new snow and sweet as a candy cane.
Steve Ember tells about some of the new
musical offerings and plays a few tunes as well.
is the Irish singer, Enya, singing "Spirit of Christmas Past" from her new
album, "And Winter Came." Most of the songs have that slow, calm rhythm and the
sound of new age music.
at all true of this next song. The
traditional song, "Sleigh Ride," is faster and more fun than ever on Bela Fleck
and the Flecktones' new album, "Jingle All the Way."
singer Ledisi also has a new Christmas album.
She sings some traditional songs but also helped write some new
ones. This one is the album's title
track, "It's Christmas."
singer George Strait's album, "Classic Christmas," is very traditional. Here the
superstar sings an all-time favorite, "Joy to the World."
We leave you now with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
performing "The Christmas Song."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was
also the producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to
our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special