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Chapel Hill Art + Transit partners with local artists for LGBTQ+ themed designs

2022-08-13 Lam, Bus Shelter Art-1.jpeg
Bus shelter located in Carrboro, North Carolina, at Carolina Apartments, showcasing new Small Town Pride Art. Photographed on August 13, 2022

Chapel Hill's Art + Transit program unveiled a new LGBTQ+ themed bus and bus shelter after partnering with two local queer artists.  

The bus, titled “Can’t Stop Pride,” is a collaboration between Art + Transit and the Town’s LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group.   

Staff members of the group chose Durham artist Wutang McDougal for the bus’ design, which features LGBTQ+ imagery within a bright color palette. McDougal did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel's requests for comment.

Raleigh-based installation artist Jane Cheek designed the bus shelter, “We Knew Intersectionality Was the Way Forward,” which features overlapping circles that display the colors of the Progress Pride Flag. 

Including the Pride installation, nine new bus shelters and one art bus now join the more than 30 art installations on local transit infrastructure. Art + Transit,  an initiative led by Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture and Chapel Hill Transit, began its initiative in 2018 to make commutes more vibrant through bus and bus shelter art.

Steve Wright, the public art coordinator for Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture, said Art + Transit wanted to focus specifically on LGBTQ+ Pride. 

“For the bus wrap, we definitely knew we wanted to have a wrap themed for Pride,” Wright said.

In their artist statement, McDougal said they wanted to represent pride in Black queerness, the transgender community and queer love through the design. 

Cheek said that while the Town didn’t give specific thematic guidelines for the piece, her focus involved building community and increasing queer visibility.  

“I know for me personally, one of the things that makes me feel welcomed or safe is seeing Pride flags,” Cheek said. “So incorporating that into my work has been kind of a theme recently.”

Brian Litchfield, Chapel Hill’s transit director, said the Art + Transit program centers around enlivening the community, making art more accessible for community members and supporting local artists.  

"This year one of our focuses was on supporting local artists and also providing an opportunity to express our support and values related to the LGBTQIA+ community," he said. 

The other new bus shelter installations feature varying themes, ranging from Antonio Alanis’ “Sun,” which draws inspiration from Latin American designs, to Sally Gregoire’s “Barning Around in North Carolina,” which is an acknowledgment of the agricultural history of North Carolina, according to her artist statement on the piece.

Collage artist and photographer Sara Roberts said her installation, “Blooms Over Chapel Hill,” was primarily aimed at bringing joy to community members. Roberts said her art is heavily inspired by her time spent in nature while growing up in North Carolina.           

“For this particular installation, I just wanted to capture the bright things in the community,” Roberts said. “I just wanted people to find some light.”  

Her floral design incorporates Chapel Hill landmarks like the Old Well and Varsity Theatre, and each petal features her original photography from the area. 

Roberts said a large part of the project involved giving back to the community in a way that was readily accessible.

“As artists, we love people,” she said. “And the best way we can give back to people is through public art, and I think it’s super, super important.”

Wright said Art + Transit plans to continue its public art initiative in the spring when there will be a new round of bus shelter installations and an additional art bus.       


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