You can expect to see a lot more art around Chapel Hill soon, but not just in Ackland Art Museum and Memorial Hall.
A new initiative is aiming to put art all over town.
Art Everywhere kicked off in April with an on campus event that included painting, performances, and one of Art Everywhere’s first projects- putting 10 pianos around UNC’s campus.
Carolina Performing Arts Director and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for the Arts, Emil Kang, says the idea for the initiative came from art-lover Chancellor Carol Folt’s desire to immerse the entire campus in art.
“We want our community to believe that arts are for everyone, so I think the first step to making it for everyone is by putting it everywhere,” said Kang.
Kang says putting art in places where it’s usually not gives people the opportunity to appreciate and interact with art without having to go to places where they may not feel at home.
“We love Memorial Hall, we believe in it and think it’s a great jewel for Chapel Hill and the community. But we also know that there’s an entire segment of the population who necessarily don’t think that’s their place to see art where they have to spend a lot of money and sit in the dark for two hours and behave,” said Kang.
The initiative fits perfectly with the timing of the new performing arts space going up in Carolina Square.
When designing the new space, Kang knew that another theater space was just not what they wanted.
“We really wanted to create a living, breathing space and when the space opens in February it’s going to be opened with an installation called Sound Maze, which is this just spectacular sculpture by this composer named Paul Dresher, where he’s created these multiple contraptions, but they are beautiful, of devices that one can manipulate to create different kinds of sound,” said Kang. “And it’s meant for people of all ages. And you walk through it and you interact with this installation.”
Kang hopes Arts Everywhere will bring even more interactive art to Chapel Hill, especially art that serves a purpose.
“If there’s a siteline issue with trees and woods, how can the arts be a part of that solution? If there are public safety issues because of darkness and other things, how can the arts be used to address those issues? How can we as someone who really thinks about the arts every day, can we offer some ideas to solutions to challenges that already exist?” said Kang.
While most of Arts Everywhere’s projects are still to be announced, Kang did say a Year of the Arts is in the works for Chapel Hill.
Building the Arts Everywhere brand is a big responsibility, but it’s not the first time Kang has made his dream a reality.
“When I started Carolina Performing Arts 13 years ago I was a staff of one. We announced our first season without any ticket prices because we hadn’t figured that out yet. We had no box office, we had no website, we had nothing. And look at us now,” said Kang.
Kang says the real success of Arts Everywhere will be embedding art in the culture forever and getting individuals to take moments from their busy lives and be engaged in the community around them.
“If we can get people to notice our neighbors around us or notice the talents of our neighbors and our friends and also to appreciate everything that we do have, I think there’s a huge opportunity for the arts to do that that really nothing else can.”