“Lightwaves”: The 19th Annual Brewster KaleidoscopeSociety Convention

Thurs. June 21-Sun. June 24

Open to the public on Sun. June 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.


Embassy Suites Hotel Airport Convention Center

5055 International Blvd.


Trekkies have their Star Trek conventions. Nudists have their colonies. Kaleidoscope fanatics, apparently, have their own society and annual conventions. Who knew? The Brewster Kaleidoscope Society, founded in 1986, has over 500 members — 155 of which are coming to Charleston for their 19th annual members-only convention this weekend.

The theme for this year’s exclusive event is “Lightwaves,” inspired by Charleston’s own lighthouses. Kaleidoscope artists from across the globe will unveil their newest creations for the very first time this weekend, and the public is invited to attend at the end of the convention to view the work. The closed convention also offers its members classes, a silent auction, a kaleidoscope-themed book reading, an awards ceremony, and the highlight event — the convention banquet on Saturday evening, where attendees are encouraged to “light themselves up” with sparkling and blinking banquet attire.

Why kaleidoscopes, you ask? They’re not just grade-school arts-and-crafts projects anymore, according to BKS director Sherry Moser, who sees a path to inner peace in the objects. “Kaleidoscopes are an art form, and the beautiful images produced offer a meditative way to take your mind away from other things,” she says. “It’s a personal and spiritual experience.”

Kaleidoscopes are spiritual? Who knew?

The event’s keynote speaker, Michael Marlin, is a light artist who appeared here with his LUMA Theater of Light show at Piccolo Spoleto 2002. “It’s a mind-blowing experience,” Marlin says, without a trace of irony. “Yeah, sure you’re just looking at kaleidoscopes, but there are just so many different designs and shapes.”

On Sunday, Marlin will be performing a sample of his traveling light show, which, according to a description on his website, “uses the dark as a canvas and light as the brush to paint a story of how light occurs to humanity.”

The BKS originally formed to provide a forum for artists, collectors, and retailers who wished to promote and perpetuate kaleidoscopes as an artistic expression. Moser says many of their members have been coming to the annual conventions since the very beginning and look forward to them each year to reunite as friends (which may explain the swing-dancing lessons scheduled during the convention).

Will Moser be seeing Marlin’s light show performance? Most assuredly. “The light shows imagery provides a compatibility to kaleidoscopes,” Moser says, “qualities that reduce stress levels and improve health.”

Kaleidoscopes improve your health? Who knew?