LISA KIDD & MICHAEL W. WILLIAMS
The reason Michael W. Williams and Lisa Kidd have decorative store-bought LED lights hanging from the ceiling of their shared office space can be explained without a single word.
"We just don't like this," said Kidd, flipping on the light switch on the wall of their office, which is buried somewhere deep within Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
At Kidd's touch the incandescent bulbs beneath the plastic fixture on the ceiling light up, but give off a yellowish hue that looks dull and old compared to the clean white light of the competing LEDs.
Of course, Williams and Kidd, respectively the lighting director and associate lighting director at Krannert Center, are a little pickier than most about the glare of their spotlights.
And that's why they've created their own office lighting system.
"It's nothing special, just fun things I've found on sale or at IKEA," Kidd said. "We light our desks as needed, and the rest is just for comfort. If we're going to spend all of this time in this room, it might as well be comfortable."
"It's a great conversation starter for anyone visiting the office," Williams said, "and there's an energy conservation component behind it as well."
Kidd and Williams weren't always so picky about their lighting.
Williams was trained at the University of Colorado as an opera singer, and had done some lighting and other production work during his training.
The opera career didn't work out as hoped, so he decided to earn a master's degree in lighting from the U. of I. to keep close to the performing world.
"I didn't grow up wanting to be a lighting director," he said.
His job at the U. of I., which he's held for 17 years, "is the best of everything," he said. "I get to manage and design, and I get to teach."
Kidd, at the U. of I. for 14 years, was a musician who learned early on that she needed another career to pay the bills. The lighting field kind of selected her.
"I wasn't strong enough to pick up a big (audio) speaker and carry it around," she said. "Lighting equipment was a lot lighter."
She said she was inspired by lighting early on by art enthusiast parents who took her to museums and art galleries when she was a child. She earned her lighting design degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Williams said LED technology, developed on the U. of I. campus, has revolutionized the lighting world. The biggest challenge now is not filling a stage with light, but keeping up to date with new and expensive lighting technology. LED lights can run several thousand dollars for performance-level equipment.
He said there have been major developments in video projection, which also falls within the lighting director's purview.
"We'd like to be more current, but these days it seems like when you buy something, in three months it's out of date," he said. "The video world is changing the fastest."
Both say bad lighting, whether in a small room or one as big as Foellinger Great Hall, bothers them.
"I'm always worrying about it, and I can be pretty critical," Williams said.
"I can see the flaws, but I am able to detach myself somewhat from the mechanics of it," Kidd said - though the "tick" of fluorescent lights tend to drive her mad.
Chemistry professor Eric Oldfield’s office is packed with nearly 40 years of photographs he has taken at the many exotic and distant locales where he has lectured. His office collection also includes abstract oil paintings he’s picked up during his travels, as well as numerous odd pieces placed strategically throughout.
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
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Accompanying globetrotting chemistry professor Eric Oldfield on one of his many trips is as easy as stepping through his office door.
Oldfield's office is filled with photos and artwork collected from nearly 40 years of traveling for lectures, conferences and vacations - and there is a story behind almost every piece.
"I don't like white walls," he said. "This isn't a hospital."
Most of the photos are Oldfield's own, and through the years his office has become a private gallery of sorts.
"I don't spend as much time as I used to taking photos, but it's always something I've loved to do," he said. "Color photography is just so fun - and 50 years ago it stimulated my interest in chemistry."
Framed travel photos that have been blown up cover most of the office's white space. Bora-Bora, Tahiti and the Grand Canyon play prominently, as do shots of favorite plants and animals in his home garden.
Oldfield said his home flower garden is an ongoing inspiration.
"I've got a big yard and there are plants everywhere," he said. "I'm British, so I garden. It's expected."
Some of Oldfield's more artistic photographic attempts also are displayed, with one three-panel software-altered portrait possessing an Andy Warhol feel.
Another photo is a blurry, dreary shot of what appears to be infrastructure. It's artistic, but it's hard to tell exactly what the subject of the photo is.
The explanation: "I got lost in Heathrow Airport and ended up on the roof," he said.
So he started snapping photos of razor wire.
Oldfield's favorite camera is a high-end wide-angle Hasselblad, but he's not necessarily a camera equipment snob. He said he has embraced digital photography and enjoys the quality and time-saving features.
He said the biggest challenge for his oldest camera, a 6-by-9-inch camera that uses roll film that he inherited, is in staying current with reproduction technology - meaning he can take all the photos he wants, but making prints has become difficult.
Oldfield said his father, a printer in London who worked near bustling Trafalgar Square, passed on his love for photography.
"My dad was always taking pictures," he said.
In addition to photographs, there also are abstract oil paintings, as well as odd pieces placed strategically on shelves, from the sculpture purchased at a gallery in Taos, New Mexico, to one given to him by a student, to the big red Buddha statue that "watches over everything" (and was purchased at a less-than-exotic local lawn and garden store).
Oldfield said the idea to decorate his office so extensively started after he moved into the Chemical and Life Sciences building when it was constructed in the 1990s. Oldfield said very little money had been earmarked in the construction budget for office furnishings.
Starting with a seven-section Italian red leather sofa, Oldfield got about the business of decorating it himself. The sofa, as well as the artwork, has served him well over the years.
"It's very convenient because I don't have to book a conference room for meetings," he said.