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First ever Uproar Festival of Public Art to promote public engagement with installations

Artwork in the sculpture garden outside of Hanes Art Center is pictured on Feb. 7, 2023.

This summer, the new Uproar Festival of Public Art will showcase 60 outdoor works in the downtown areas of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough. 

During the month-long festival, community members and art enthusiasts can visit several sites across Orange County to view and vote on the installations.

The festival will launch on July 14 with a kick-off party in Chapel Hill, and will conclude on Aug. 12 with an awards celebration in Hillsborough. Cash prizes — up to $10,000 — will be awarded to artists chosen by both the public and a jury panel of three selected experts.

Inspired by festivals featuring installation art, such as ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mich., and ArtFields in Lake City, S.C., Uproar will be the first festival of its kind in North Carolina.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orange County Arts Commission, the main coordinator for the event, saw a need for an interactive art festival in the community and came up with the idea of Uproar, Katie Murray, director of the commission, said.

However, due to regulations restricting crowd gatherings, it elected to wait until the art could be enjoyed in person.

“My hope is that for this one month, the arts are on display and are drawing people into our communities and it can show everyone what is possible when we really are prioritizing the arts,” Murray said. 

Though Uproar is happening in the summer and fewer students are in the area, the festival aims to support local businesses and the community by bringing people to Orange County.

Visitors can expect to find two-dimensional pieces, sculptures and interactive installations sprinkled across the towns.

More than 100 artists across the Southeast applied to be featured in Uproar, but only 60 artists were selected from four states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Arkansas. During the festival, these artists will be evaluated by the judge panel based on artistic excellence, visual impact, creativity and feasibility.

“It's the first time I've participated in an outdoor installation so I have no idea where the piece is going to go or how people are going to really respond to it," Ryan Lutz, a selected artist, said. "But it's also very exciting."

Lutz woodworking with recycled skateboards will be featured during Uproar.

Claire Kiester, a Charlotte-based artist who works primarily with fiber and print, said the festival will bring something new to North Carolina that the community has never seen before.

“I think installation art and other mediums have a great capacity to expand people's view of what art can be,” she said.

While Uproar is dedicated to the celebration of local artists, it is also focused on promoting participation in the arts for all with an accessible and engaging experience, Murray said.

“Oftentimes, the arts can be viewed as elitist and exclusive, and that makes my heart hurt,” she said. “Creativity is part of humanity and all people have some form of creativity.”

Murray said it is free to participate in the festival and that she hopes all kinds of people are able to experience it.

@DTHCityState | 

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