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The Lunar Portal, Shervone Neckles

At the entrance to UPMC Mercy Pavilion, The Lunar Portal invites us to experience the connection between the Earth and the Moon. 

The 29½ day lunar cycle is a part of many holidays, calendars, spiritual traditions, and planting seasons. Experiencing the lunar phases reconnects us to the indigenous wisdom of honoring the Moon and encourages us to harness and appreciate our own ebb and flow. Across generations, cultures, and abilities, we are all affected by daylight and moonlight that synchronizes our bodies on an internal, cellular level. The installation brings the Moon from the sky to the ground level; the seemingly unreachable becomes more accessible. 

In the plaza, eight phases of the moon are represented as 10-foot-tall archways along two paths. Each archway is made of stainless steel and acrylic with electronically controlled LED lights. The balance of the materials for each arch represents a different phase of the moon. The full moon is made mostly of acrylic and LED, while the new moon is made mostly of stainless steel. One arch will emit a brighter light than the others to mark the current Moon phase.

As you cross the plaza, the handrail announces each element with labels in Braille: 

  • New Moon Phase - A time to begin
  • Waxing Crescent Phase - A time to emerge
  • First Quarter Phase - A time to reimagine 
  • Waxing Gibbous Phase - A time to trust
  • Full Moon Phase - A time to restore  
  • Waning Gibbous Phase - A time to receive
  • Last Quarter Phase - A time to give back
  • Waning Crescent Phase - A time to reconnect

Shervone Neckles is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, community worker, and artist advocate. The Lunar Portal is an example of how she draws inspiration from her Afro-Caribbean sensibilities to retell stories of history and mythology.