Making things with light

Unless you lived in a plastic bubble á la John Travolta, if you were a child in the ’60s and ’70s, you couldn’t ignore the strains of the television jingle, “Lite-Brite, making things with light. What a sight, making things with Lite-Brite!”

Thomas Edison may have invented the light bulb, but Marvin Glass, the da Vinci of plastic, made it fun. (The Chicago-based freelance toy designer also blessed us with “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots,” the heterosexual courtship primer “Mystery Date” and the malpractice game “Operation.”) Glass’ Lite-Brite was an undeniably hypnotic marriage of an ordinary light bulb and brilliantly colored plastic pegs children could use to punch through circles in black paper to create Jenny Holzer-esque artworks.

Hasbro launched Lite-Brite in 1967, too late for artist Ray Fournier to spend his formative years basking in its colorful glow. But the Miami-based artist has taken his revenge for a deprived childhood, making Lite-Brite his medium of choice for the last seven years, as shown in his exhibition at Eclectic Electric.

Beginning with a digital picture and translating it in the computer to a Lite-Brite scale image, Fournier then works for months of “labor-intensive play” on his images, using actual Lite-Brite toys he finds during frequent thrift-store excursions. Fournier finds inspiration in everything from cereal-box art and children’s books to 19th-century French Pointillism and the contemporary, technology-influenced work of Fluxus artist Nam June Paik. His designs include personal portraits as well as renditions of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, the Mona Lisa and Chairman Mao inspired by the iconic images done by Andy Warhol.

Fournier’s Lite-Brite exhibition also features two of his large pieces, a “Heroic Seated Buddha” (featured previously at Atlanta’s store) and a “Standing Nude Apres Seurat,” which are created with stacks of Lite-Brite and thousands of pixels of color. What a sight.

Ray Fournier’s work appears Oct. 18-Nov. 16 at Eclectic Electric, 1393 N. Highland Ave., noon-7 p.m. Tues.-Sat. 404-875-2840.