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Monday February 6th

These students are organizing an art show to give back to the community

Mixed Concrete is an art show that raises money for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. Photo courtesy of Sarah Renfro.
Buy Photos Mixed Concrete is an art show that raises money for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. Photo courtesy of Sarah Renfro.

Top of the Hill’s Great Room will look a little different than usual tomorrow night. 

Mixed Concrete, a student-run art show and fundraiser, will be filling the space with more than 75 works by students and local artists for a silent auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. The show, which is in its seventh year, is expected to raise over $10,000 to help combat problems with affordable housing in Chapel Hill.

Director Mary McCall Leland and Assistant Director Badham Dixon, both sophomores, and their team have been planning the show since September and are excited about how much it has grown. 

“We’ve gone from a small gathering with 30 pieces to more than 70 pieces and three rooms at TOPO and more than 100 responses on the Facebook invite,” Leland said. 

They’ve also grown in funding. Mixed Concrete receives a $500 grant from Carolina Creates annually. In addition, this year they received a $2,500 grant from the University's entrepreneurship minor.

They are using the extra funds to give their professional artists a 20 percent commission, and are investing in next year’s show. 

“Many of us on the team are artists ourselves, and we know it’s a big favor to ask an artist to donate their art,” said Waverly Leonard, assistant media and publicity chair. “We want to let them know how thankful we are for their donation.” 

Mixed Concrete’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity is integral to the event. Sarah Renfro, former president of UNC Habitat, worked to earn UNC one of only two $20,000 matching grants from State Farm, $10,000 of which will be applied directly to Mixed Concrete. 

“This grant is not only a remarkable accomplishment of our club, it’s also a great honor to UNC-Chapel Hill,” Renfro said. “It’s due to the devotion and passion and dedication of our volunteers, and it showcases UNC’s student commitment to serving the community.” 

The local community is also what drives the art donations. Leland and Dixon have received paintings, photo prints, ceramics, jewelry and more from dozens of students and professional artists in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. 

Renfro’s favorite work is by UNC student and artist Sarah Wade, and involves some unusual materials. 

“She built a microscope out of scrap materials and took a picture of kombucha,” Renfro said. 

But for this team, the event all goes back to students helping members of their community. 

“We really value that this is student-run,” Dixon said. “We don’t have a faculty adviser. This is a tried-and-true student organization raising over $10,000.” 

Leland agreed, emphasizing the importance of being able to give back. 

“A home is a part of someone’s life that is forever,” Leland said. “It’s such a gift, so to be able to contribute something so large to someone’s life by pulling together art and hosting a fun event — that’s the best.”


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