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Plants bloom into words in town-wide 'Floraffiti' exhibit

Artist Carter Hubbard created natural art on sidewalks in Chapel Hill. Photo Courtesy of Carter Hubbard.

Artist Carter Hubbard created natural art on sidewalks in Chapel Hill. Photo Courtesy of Carter Hubbard.

Floraffiti, in collaboration with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community, will be showcasing its fifth year of artistic plant installations during the 2nd Friday ArtWalk from 6-9 p.m. on April 14.

Floraffiti is a group of community organizations that have come together to create meaningful words and use plants to spell them in areas around town.

Carter Hubbard, founder of Floraffiti, has mastered the art of placemaking — the act of identifying underutilized areas throughout Chapel Hill and Carrboro to create community engagement pieces with plants.

Participating organizations include the adults of the Arts and Peer Support Group with the Art Therapy Institute of NC, Boomerang Youth Inc., Youth Community Project and teens from a few Orange County high schools.

Hubbard said there are about 45 total words around town and about half of them are already beginning to bloom.

Hillary Rubesin, associate director of the Art Therapy Institute, said her partnership with Hubbard originated from Hubbard’s desire to ensure that marginalized groups have a voice.

One of these groups is the institute’s Arts and Peer Support Group, which is made up of outpatient adults living with mental illnesses.

“It is a really open group, and we have been running it for five years for any adult over 18 who identifies as having a mental illness,” said Rubesin, adding that this is for people who like social support and creating art.

Hubbard, along with some of the group’s members, decided on one of the words for Floraffiti: resilience.

Hubbard also wanted to include youth in the development of the project and reached out to Boomerang Youth to involve middle and high school students.

“We were excited to bring this opportunity to young people who may not have access to projects like this,” said Sonia Frischemeier, director of operations for Boomerang.

During the ArtWalk, community members will recite poetry in front of the installation.

Frischemeier said Boomerang held two writing workshops with The Poetry Project in Greensboro to generate ideas for Floraffiti poetry.

“Some of their words are in Spanish, and this is great to bring outreach to the community,” she said.

“It is amazing to see kids from all different backgrounds work together and help each other in the context of poetry.”

Josephus Thompson III, director of The Poetry Project, assisted with the poetry aspect of the workshop and helped inspire people to express their words and ideas.

“Young people are always excited about getting a chance to share their words,” he said.


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