Charlotte exhibit drives local artists to think: 'Go green'

Amelia Parr and Jon Wald created "E-Traffic Ziggurat" at Trade and Tryon streets; the work portrays the flow of information technologies.
Amelia Parr and Jon Wald created "E-Traffic Ziggurat" at Trade and Tryon streets; the work portrays the flow of information technologies.

They appear to be benches used by those who want to sit and listen to a performance in uptown Charlotte, or by homeless folks looking for a place to rest.

But much more than wood and cinder blocks went into the benches. The work is part of an art installation by six students from Winthrop University's Department of Fine Arts.

A select group of sculpture and photography students' artwork is on display in Center City Charlotte as part of Charlotte Shout, a month-long celebration of the arts.

The art focuses on Charlotte Shout's drive to "Go Green," and it was funded by a grant from the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte. The work will be on display through Sunday.

The students and their projects are Amelia Parr and Jon Wald, creator of "E-Traffic Ziggurat," an exhibit at Trade and Tryon streets; Trey Hill, Brent Pafford and Katie Lloyd, creator of "675 Cinder Blocks," a cinder block seating installation at 6th and Tryon streets at the Shout Café; and Chris Lange, creator of "Transcend," a video presented at Shout Café offered on Friday evenings. The installations were created earlier this month.

Tom Stanley, director of Winthrop University Galleries, acted as a liaison between the arts council in Charlotte and Winthrop. He said they looked at a few advanced sculpture and photography majors who had experience with a similar project.

"Essentially, we wanted to make sure the students can think on their feet, can maintain a budget and will do what they intend to do for the project -- and to, these students are not afraid to take risks in their work," he said. "All of these students have also been involved in pretty extensive projects on campus already."

The project was familiar territory for Lloyd, who created a sculpture last year at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Lloyd was part of the threesome that installed "675 Cinder Blocks," a series of sculptures from cinder blocks.

Lloyd said the students had to present their proposals, a written statement and a budget to the Charlotte arts council. They were given $10,000 to complete the project.

The group built a seating area with 675 cinder blocks and wood and also created a mimick of a fountain in Arequipa Park, adjacent to the main library on Tryon Street. They later disassembled some of the sculpture and moved it to a second location at the Shout Café, where they constructed a sculpture of a house and a grass-filled yard.

"It's about the labor of moving cinder blocks," said Lloyd, 19, a junior majoring in fine arts with a concentration in sculpture. "What we tried to do is functional and for people who may need more seating."

Lange's "Transcend" is a five-minutes video performance art themed from the echoes of naturalistic ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. He was given a $1,500 budget.

Because his work is captured on video, it can only be seen from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, the last time his project will be shown.

"The question I'm posing to viewers is why we have reached this sort of pentacle of materalism in the world," said Lange, who was asked by Lloyd to participate. Lange, a senior majoring in photography, uses a projector, which he plans given to the arts department at the end of the project, to convey his message.

The "E-Traffic Ziggurat" sculpture describes the flow of information technologies from Silicon Valley ideas and design to Asian manufacturers for western consumption.

The artwork emphasizes the interconnectedness of manufacturing cycles and how they shape the global landscape. It encourages proper disposal of e-waste in an environmentally sensitive manner.

The project was an incredible opportunity for the students to have their work viewed before thousands of peole.

Added Stanley: "Charlotte is a fine city, but they are just as interested in projects in Rock Hill. In many respects, there is more opportunity in Rock Hill to make a difference."

Referring to the Winthrop students, he added: "I hope they choose a related field where this experience will serve them well, as they make a positive impact on their community."