With the semester winding down and the weather heating up, students, professors and Chapel Hill residents have the opportunity to spend much more time outdoors. One way to enjoy the spring weather and support local artists is to visit one of the dozens of murals, transit art and patterned crosswalks commissioned by Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture.
Public Art Coordinator for Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture Steve Wright said public art is part of what makes Chapel Hill unique to other towns or cities.
“When public art is successful, it speaks to that particular community and shows what’s original about that location and what values people hold,” Wright said. “Public art in Chapel Hill should be different than in New York City or Los Angeles because those are different places, different communities, different people.”
To make the art possible, artists apply and are selected by a board of town representatives. After that, the artists work directly with Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture to create their public pieces.
Here are a few pieces of public art you should check out:
We, Too, Sing America by Antonio Alanis
At 161 E. Franklin St., there is a vinyl piece that honors Langston Hughes' poem “I, too” by Latinx-identifying artist and activist Antonio Alanis. The artist responded to a call for art that represented equality and resilience.
“I’m always thinking about the initial people in the United States who have been fighting for equality for so long,” Alanis said. “For me, it was important to start with authority figures such as Langston Hughes as an homage and a thank you to him and all the trailblazers that have enabled us — and myself specifically — to have the opportunities that I currently have.”
Alanis said that he was able to use his background as a person of color and a Latinx-identifying artist to really connect with the subject matter of the piece. He said the art features people are important figures in the fight for equality in America.