Travel / USA Roots&Traditions

Let there be LIGHT (Designers)!

Let there be LIGHT! (and the absence thereof) by Dana Goodin

American Roots & Traditions interviewed Katherine and Christopher Abernathy of Abernathy Lighting Design Inc.

Abernathy Lighting Design on Women in Country a couple of weeks ago and what follows wants to be complimentary to that round table discussion, not a substitution, exploring some of their beautiful theatrical work and awesome architectural designs.

I’ll be sharing some pictures and info of some of the coolest places you can plan on visiting as soon as the world is “open for business”!

“We learn to tell a story with light.” 

Katherine Abernathy President ALDI love this phrase. I adore storytelling in all of it’s forms, and in turn I too, love to tell stories myself, so I completely get this.


During our conversation, Chris and Kathy spoke of how light (or it’s absence) affects all our senses, especially in theatre and museum design. It can make you FEEL and HEAR, not only SEE, in many different ways.

“The lighting of it affects everything light falls upon: How you see what you see, how you feel about it, and how you hear what you are hearing.”


As we spoke about their own personal life journeys, professional collaboration (as well as the subsequent love story) diving into their work as lighting designers, we learned why light is so important to us all, everyday.

Well of course, you might say. But what I mean is: being truly aware of light and shadows, how it changes our thoughts and feelings, how it influences us on a sensorial level can be a eye-opening experience.


In fact, they invited us to do just this – to really look at light.

We all know how sunrises and sunsets make us feel, how we can become transfixed by the meshing and melting of colors as the day is born or as it slowly dies away, how Christmas lights in our house can create so much warm and fuzzy comfort to make us downright emotional, and those bright external lights – light shows and brilliant skyscrapers – can make us gape with awe.

But do we really take stock of how light makes us feel everyday? Probably not. But it might be worth our while. I’m trying to keep it in mind and I’ll say that I’m enjoying the experiment, try it and let us know!


Lighting designers from the theaters to museums to landmarks, retail stores, offices and homes know how important it is to create the right ambiance for each setting and moreover, know how to manipulate light and shadows to make us feel what they want us toso they can, tell us the story, consequentially ticking all our emotional boxes.

As we learned during our interview, Kathy and Chris really believe in team spirit. They cannot stress this enough, in fact, “Collaboration is the key to success” is their motto.


Following this thought, Chris would like to credit his team at the Rhode Island College Theatre for their work on these phenomenal productions: Alan Pickart, Rob Ferland, Charlotte Burgess, John Rosa and Marcia Zammerelli.

Kathy would also like to credit her ALD team for their work on the fantastic architectural designs: Lead designer, Jason Rainone and Business/Project Manager, Nicole Brown Frecchete Shaw.

Below are a few of Christopher’s favorites during his tenure as Professor of Theatrical Scenery and Lighting Design: The Tempest – The Misanthrope – Present Laughter – Lysistrata.

Check out Rhode Island College Theatre also on Facebook.

Following pics are from the ALD repertory of Designs: (we want to thank all those for the permission to use these pics)

Mystic Seaport Museum – Mystic, CT Photo Credit Joe Michael (c) 2020 Mystic Seaport Museum

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, USE

Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center – Cambridge, MD

One of my absolute heroines, Harriet Tubman continues to inspire generations thanks to exhibits such as this. On my list for sure.

The following photo you find a beautiful pic of their work in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – Cincinnati, OH

Chisholm Heritage Center Museum Duncan, Oklahoma Photo Chisholm Heritage Center Museum

Those of you who would love to take part of the trail experience should absolutely put this place on your bucket list!

The Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education Cincinnati, Ohio

And the list goes on and on …these are just the tip of the iceberg!

Some other super projects and places include:

…and many more…

So I hope you’ve jotted down some of these great places to visit soon – virtually or hopefully, in person, and if you couldn’t listen in to our live interview, I’d invite you to do so – we had a great time and they really are an inspiring couple!


Since Chris has now retired and Kathy has decided to slow down a bit their new project is traveling the US in a brand new RV, visiting all the states one by one and seeing all the curiosities that these places have to offer.

Maybe we can get them to send us a picture trail … we may have to do another live feed with them on the road!

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