The Chapel Hill Town Council gave Rhode Island-based artist Erik Carlson approval to start his $130,000 public art piece at the library Sept. 29.
Carlson is one of two artists installing public art at the library this year. Carlson’s interactive multimedia piece will be mounted on a wall in the library across from the main circulation desk. The second artist, sculptor Todd Frahm, will be installing his sculptures in the front roundabout. Both projects are set to be unveiled in late spring.
The two pieces are funded through the town’s Percent for Art Ordinance, which requires that one percent of the town’s chosen capital project funding go toward the installation and maintenance of public art each year.
The 2013-14 Chapel Hill Library Public Art Selection Committee — made up of members from the town council, library staff, Chapel Hill Public Art Commission and the Ackland Art Museum — chose Carlson and Frahm from a pool of 235 artists in November.
“We had a very nice cross section of the different members of the town to review these 235 artists and get us to where we are now,” said Dan Cefalo, vice chairman of the public arts commission.
Carlson’s piece, Un-Bound, will consist of a series of four wedge-shaped panels with glass convex lenses installed on the panels to resemble Braille dots. When a visitor looks through one of the lenses, he or she will see a specific message or image, only visible when the visitor looks through it.
The images seen through the lenses will be displayed through a series of hidden video monitors, located behind the panels, that are computer-controlled to allow for thousands of different images within the image sequences.
Content for the image and message clips found in the piece will be gathered from library sources and the community. With this, Carlson will be looking for submissions in the next few months for items like home movies, letters, postcards, photos, family histories and other items that relate specifically to Chapel Hill.
“Basically, I’m searching out what I call Chapel Hill’s hidden library,” Carlson said.
Jeffrey York, public and cultural arts administrator for Chapel Hill, said the committee is happy there will be two projects at the library.
“Because the library now is more than just books — it’s a lot of electronic information — we really like the idea that this should be a multimedia project, and it would also deal with the whole idea of information transfer both through video and some other components that the artist plans on incorporating into it,” he said.
“It is all about the history of libraries and information — past, present and future.”
Council member Lee Storrow said the process of having an artist present his work for approval isn’t an ideal way to create work.
“When you get things that come in front of the council like this, sometimes it does feel like micromanaging,” Storrow said during a Chapel Hill Town Council meeting.
“You can’t help but think that this is not the ideal way that art is made with multiple committees reviewing and providing input and feedback to artists — but there will probably be citizens who have feedback for us, and they’ll appreciate this.”