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"There's a little something for everybody": Uproar Festival of Public Art underway until Aug. 12

A sculpture by Durham artist TJ Christiansen stands in front of Carolina Square on Thursday, July 20, 2023.

The Uproar Festival of Public Art, which began on July 14 and ends on Aug. 12, showcases works by 60 artists from four states across Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.

The festival is also a competition, with an awards ceremony being held on Aug.12 in Hillsborough. Votes are cast by both the public and a jury panel, according to the event’s website. 

There are transportation services scheduled each Saturday until the festival’s end to aid in travel between art sites. 

“There were people all over the place with their maps and seeking out the artwork, and by the end of the day on Sunday, we had about 600 votes cast already,” Orange County Arts Commission Director Katie Murray said about the first weekend. “We're up to over 5,000 views of our Google Maps, so I think people are really having fun.”

The Orange County Arts Commission organized the event, which has been in the making for four years. Uproar was inspired by previous competition-based public art exhibitions in other states.

“You really just can't worry about that part of the process too much,” Raleigh-based artist Jane Cheek said. “It’s kind of like any other application processes, like you put your stuff out there and then you just kind of wait and see what happens and if whoever's making choices that time doesn't choose you, and that's just how it goes.”

Uproar's awards are cash prizes, with over $27,000 being offered split into first, second and third places for jury selection and a people's choice winner. The Town of Hillsborough Purchase Award, the Town of Chapel Hill Commission Award and the Sponsor’s Choice Awards are awarded outside of the festival's jury panel and attendees.

Votes on the works of art are cast through QR codes that can only be scanned in person, meaning only those who have physically attended can participate in choosing winners.

“There's a lot of people that aren't quite sure how to use the QR code,” Murray said. “And even though we have instructions on the website on how to do it, you know, we're going to make a little handout so that we can give it to people who aren't quite clear on how that works.”

Georgia-based artist NACK said he likes that votes can only be cast by those who have physically seen the artwork. 

“I mean it's just for, you know, the people there in town, which I think is great,” he said. “Because then I mean, that's the people that are seeing the artwork, so it makes sense to not make it like, an internet voting thing or whatever.”

Though the festival continues until August, Murray said she encourages community members to attend as early as possible because of the newness of the artworks and how they are spread out across three towns.

“It's a day well spent,” NACK said. “I'm sure there's a little something for everybody.”


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