Art + Ecology Community Campus at Brightwalk located at Historic Double Oaks

McColl Center for Art + Innovation

Funding Received: 2013
Charlotte, NC
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 10, 2013

Update and Reflection

What do you get when an artist, residents, and a developer engage in conversation? First thoughts go to magic and dreams. But then the conversation goes deeper into how a community can survive change, thrive and tackle thorny issues around preserving its history and growing together into its future. This past month McColl Center for Visual Art has been steadfastly working with community leadership and bringing future potential artists to Brightwalk at Historic Double Oaks to identify the nodes of interaction for environmental installations and points of community engagement. This month we were proud to host Jackie Brookner, ecological artist, writer and educator.

Jackie’s visit included an immersive introduction to Charlotte allowing her to develop a deeper understanding of the human and natural ecology of the Brightwalk landscape.
McColl Center Environmental Artists-in-Residence Jeff Schmuki and Wendy Deschenes operating out of the “PlantBot ArtLab”, an 18 ft, solar powered enclosed trailer brought a unique art, science, and education experience to the neighborhoods in the Statesville Avenue Corridor, which include Brightwalk, during the 3rd Annual Northwest Community Day. The experience allowed residents to develop a deeper understanding about where their food comes from, the importance of second-shift pollinators and sustainable practice in an entertaining and artistic way.

Phase one of video documentation has also commenced to capture the 98 acres Brightwalk before ArtPlace landscape. The story begins.

Recent Wins

Support and interest continues to grow throughout the community. The Charlotte Observer ran a front page feature on the announcement of the ArtPlace America Award --
ArtPlace grant at Brightwalk by Leah Harrison and Mecklenburg Times also, featured the Announcement in a recent publication ArtPlace grant at Brightwalk by Diane Petryk. Community feedback and interest has been overwhelming, attracting diverse collaborators to support placemaking and community engagement activities.

Our partners at Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership proudly announced the implementation of a community bike loop, affectionately named the “non-booty” loop, paying homage to a popular bicycle route in another community located in south Charlotte. Brightwalk will launch the opening of the “non-booty” loop with a Family Fun Day where residents and local bicycle clubs will participate in a fun ride. The “non-booty loop” will be designated as an official practice site for the NoDa Grand Prix, which is a full day of racing in historic North Charlotte wrapped in an outdoor festival complete with food and live music. Brightwalk’s Family Fun Ride will be an outdoor festival that will encourage cycling, introduce the community to the “non-booty loop”, educate community as to how to share the road and educate children about correct bicycle safety. The activation of this loop exemplifies creative placemaking by contributing to the mix use of the neighborhood and encouraging widespread usage of the bike lanes that are part of the sustainability infrastructure improvements to this redevelopment.


“… human culture has been, is, and always will be nested in ecological systems.” – Chet Bowers, 1997.

Recent conversations have prompted questions around art, humans and ecology. How does an artist facilitate the rebuilding of a relationship between people and the land? How does the relationship between a community and the land be reinvented through the creative process to change it from a symbol of bondage to a symbol of freedom? How does art influence the social, financial and ecological constructs of an area?