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
November 14, 2013

Community Meeting at Brightwalk, sharing stories with current Environmental Artist-in-Residence Jason McDonald, Artist-in-Residence Samantha Hill and future Environmental Artist-in-Residence Brandon Ballengee

McColl Center for Visual Art welcomed Jason McDonald as the first ArtPlace America Artist-in-Residence. He has been investigating a remediation project in a stream channel at the evolving Arts and Ecology Campus. While he has been full of ideas and concepts that respond to environmental issues and community needs, challenges have presented at every turn.

Environmental projects are inherently complex; there are many stakeholders and often, innovative solutions are re-examined to ensure the highest benefit for the community served.

This was a key learning moment for the team. We came back to the mission of the project and what experience would serve the community, attract diverse participants, and support future artists. Jason is working to create a community space for artists and residents that will not only demonstrate sustainable practice, but also help create a sustainable plan for future engagement activities. Jason listened to stakeholders, community members and the Center and created a plan, which will support future placemaking activities.

Recent Wins
We also have another success to share.

The Center welcomed Samantha Hill as artist-in-residence during the fall residency term. The focus of Sam’s artwork is to collect oral narratives to develop a site-specific art installation project, which connects family stories and ephemera to significant events in American history. The collected stories and ephemera are then displayed in a historic location for public interaction. As a Socio-Cultural Anthropologist, Sam is deeply committed to social practice. She strives to connect with the public through meaningful actions. These actions can be collaborating with the public to make the work or creating situations for the public to interact with the work. Both are an act of inclusion into the art world instead of only being passive observers of it.

Sam’s project is to collect the family stories of African American families from the Double Oaks/Brightwalk area and surrounding neighborhoods. The purpose of this inquiry is to document historical social/economic events and uncover how the African American community contributed to the culture and history of Charlotte. Sam’s inquiry adds another rich layer to the creation of the Art and Ecology Campus at Brightwalk. As she captures the story of this community in transition, she seeks answers to two important questions:

-- With the community at the point of re-genesis how do we capture that transformation?
-- How will we keep some of the old?”

Artist led interventions such as Jason’s and Samantha’s are providing opportunities to elevate experiences in place for artists and residents while respecting the community’s social and historical attributes. As we move forward, we are challenged to seek opportunities, which meet the needs of the community and continue to emphasize the community’s cultural identity, integrity and assets.