Encounters - CODAworx


Client: Chroma2four

Location: Portland, ME, United States

Completion date: 2023

Project Team

concept, art direction, art, installation, project management

Cynthia Thompson


concept, art direction, animation

James LaPlante

Sputnik Animation


(Cynthia Thompson) I’ve been a sculptor since I made paper carnations for the prom. At every stage of my career, I’ve explored and pushed the boundaries. My first video-projection-mapped project was over twenty years ago. My fabric sculptures love light, and light loves them back. I have seen many immersive art installations, and wanted put my own mark on the new medium.

James LaPlante is an animator (Emmy winner) who works with science educators to explain and demystify difficult ideas. James and I had done work together, and teamed up for Encounters.

Encounters is a temporary immersive and interactive art environment we staged in August of 2023. We recuited, convinced, and encouraged a diverse group of over twenty painters, sculptors, music and stage performers, digital artists, and animators to join us. We also recruited a diverse audience, which I believe is the best measure of our success. People who had never been in a gallery, parents with small children, teenagers on their own, elders.


Our goal was to bring art to everyone, to make art less intimidating and exclusive, and to bring people into the experience of art by making it themselves, or participating in making it.

The theme, encounters, is so broad that anyone could run with it- not just movie buffs imagining alien visitors.
Encounters was arranged around the idea of encountering unknown and compelling ideas, beings, and experiences.

Artists whose work could be purchased, like painters and sculptors, paid no commission to Encounters for work they sold, and the techy artists got paid to help us with the mountain of work it took to stage it. Live performers were paid. But there was a lot of volunteer work, and we are grateful to those unsung helpers.


We placed art in numerous local bars and brewpubs.
We recruited local businesses and arts organizations for financial support.
We arranged a call-in show about immersive art with our local NPR station, and recruited Jeff Grantz (of Design Communications Ltd. and founder of Illuminus Boston) and Vince Kadlubek, (a director and founder of Meow Wolf) to participate with James.
We offered free tickets to local retirment homes and to the Boys and Girls Club.
We had special parties, including a Barbie party hosted by a local collector with over 100 Barbies.
We learned by doing: Post-It pads and the hands-on table proved to be a big hit. Little kids still love a Hula-Hoop!

Additional Information

Here is a partial list of artists involved: • Live performers- Maria Finkelmeier (MF Dynamics), Firefly the Hybrid, Viva the Sensation, Leland Faulkner & Michael Menes (iM2.earth), • Painting, sculpture, fiber arts- Roxi Suger, XiLin Wei, Carter Shappy, Daisy Braun, Lindsey Ruggeiro, Kate Chappell, Joe Hemes, Sharon Townshend, Stephen Porter, Keith Fitzgerald, Norajean Ferris, Delilah Iris, Anna Dibble, Charles Duvall, Stephen Porter, Jazmin Knapp, Julie Baugh, Connor Pirruccello-McClellan, Robert Jones, • Tension fabric- Cynthia Thompson • Animation- Jason Lieder, Sam Wilkens-O'Brien, James LaPlante • Holograms- Jason Lieder • Environment music- Emily Hopkins