About the I Heart Rail Trail Lights
The I Heart Rail Trail Lights is back for 2021 from February 19th to March 7th in South End Charlotte, NC. It’s a perfect thing to do during COVID times as the whole display is outdoors with plenty of room to spread out. It’s also completely free!
So what is the I Heart Rail Trail Light display? It’s an interactive light display that spans from Carson Boulevard to Atherton Mill on the Charlotte Rail Trail. Since it’s already on a public greenway, it makes it a very easy walk to see all the displays. It’s about .8 miles to walk from stop 1 to stop 6!
Who designed it? After over 20 NC and SC artists submitted ideas for this year’s installation, 7 artists were chosen to contribute: Luvly Moon, Kit Kube, Rachel Dickey, Sharon Dowell & Chris Holston, Ellie Richards, and Meredith Connelly.
So where is it located? The art display is on the rail trail in South End Charlotte. There are 6 different displays:
- Light Beans by Luvly Moon – 1100 South Plaza (at the apartment splash pad)
- Threads by Kit Kube – Charlotte Urban Design Center plaza (1507 Camden Road)
- Covid Confessionals by Rachel Dickey – Dimensional Fund Advisors plaza (1616 S. Tryon)
- Lover’s Lighthouse by Sharon Dowell & Chris Holston – 1616 “Coop” (1616 Camden Rd. above Leroy Fox)
- Seating ReArrangements by Ellie Richards – Dilworth Artisan Station Plaza (118 E. Kingston Ave.)
- Fairy Ring by Meredith Connelly – Atherton Plaza (2102 South Blvd.)
Is there anything else to see or do while exploring? Yes! Lots of local businesses in South End are doing freebies, giveaways, live music, and much more. Follow @southendclt to see everything going on! Some of our favorite things to hit up are Shake Shack, Sabor Latin Grill, or Blaze Pizza for food, Jeni’s Ice Cream & Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for a treat, grabbing a beer at Sycamore Brewing, and shopping at Girl Tribe Co. and the 704 Shop.
The Light Displays
Bios & Info from the Charlotte Rail Trail Website
Stop 1: Light Beans by Lovely Moon (@luvlymoon_)
1100 South Plaza
About Light Beans:
Luvly Moon’s Light Beans, playfully placed on Atherton Plaza, are painted acrylic semi-circular sculptures of varying sizes, between two and four feet in diameter. Each Light Bean is outfitted with a lantern light suspended from an antenna-like extension of each Light Bean. Elevated off the Light Rail, these quirky sculptures create a clever interruption of the public space and are intended to spark joy in passersby. Light Beans represents the light from within each of us and its power to illuminate any dark night, and each other.
About Luvly Moon:
Luvly Moon moved to Charlotte over fifteen years ago and describes her work as bright and bubbly with a purpose-invitation for every viewer to revisit their inner child. Luvly utilizes bold color and form to control the eye and the emotional experience. Creating for Luvly is a form of somatic therapy and by focusing on her art, she an energetic fingerprint upon each piece. Her hope is this energy of love and happiness can transfer from installation to view, and from viewer to their broader community. Luvly’s wish is to provide inner-child evocations and bright splashes of sweetness around the city to fill hearts with smiles and joy.
Stop 2: Threads by Kit Kube
1507 Camden Road
Composed of repurposed stainless-steel spools from textile mills, harvested from a local scrap yard, Threads, is a light installation creates ties to the design district and former industrial neighborhood of South End. In Threads, Kit Kube has reworked remnants of the area’s textile industry, creating a new object from the sum of varying pieces and parts. Inside of each sculpture, Kit has incorporated and wired different light sources to project threads of colored light through the pieces and its surroundings. As a local artist who uses light as his primary medium and an exhibition developer for arts and science museums, Kit utilizes light-based objects fabricated from remnants of the mechanistic past to bring about surprise and wonderment in viewers.
About Kit Kube:
Kit Kube is a kinetic sculptor who investigates scientific, cultural and spiritual concepts through the creation of public and private art. Kit began his creative path as a designer and builder of hands-on exhibits and theater presentations at Discovery Place in Charlotte. For the following twenty-two years he worked as exhibits director, designer and master prototyper at science museums in North Carolina, Virginia, Minnesota, Switzerland and Sweden. He fabricated three-dimensional, interactive exhibits to communicate complex concepts while integrating technology and art. Now, as an artist, Kit produces sculpture using artifacts, movement, light, and shadow. Kit exploits the aesthetics of the material and its structure, how it is held in space, and the use of light and shadow to change its intrinsic characteristics, transforming cold, heavy steel to appear warm and weightless.
Stop 3: Covid Confessionals by Rachel Dickey
1515 S. Tryon
About Covid Confessionals:
Covid Confessionals is a timely response to Covid-19 measures for social distancing as a set of iridescent curved walls with a six-foot radius that are activated by light characteristics of color and reflection. Each of the confessionals act as room-sized face shields that provide a barrier for meeting. The spacing of these urban shields encourages physical distancing, while also providing a place for interaction, and contemplation. The ground plane surrounding the shields is demarcated by a set of vibration activated lights at the center of each confessional. As a passerby steps on the interactive lights, a field of light dynamically bounces off the illuminated shields and encourages distanced and interactive play.
About Rachel Dickey:
Rachel Dickey is the principal of Studio Dickey and is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at University of North Carolina Charlotte College of Arts and Architecture. She holds a Master of Design Studies with a concentration in technology from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of Architecture from Georgia Institute of Technology. She has previously taught as the Design Innovation Fellow at Ball State University and as a Visiting Professor at Cornell University. Dickey’s research and practice strives to draw upon the influential capacity of design to impact and enhance the lives of those who encounter it.
Studio Dickey, founded and directed by Rachel Dickey, is an art and design practice located in Charlotte, North Carolina. With each project, Studio Dickey shows a commitment to innovation though use of the most cutting-edge technologies, materials, and fabrication methods. The studio gains inspiration from concepts informed by cultural, technological and social dimensions and believes that a public design project in its contemporary manifestation can create meaningful experiences to a large and diverse audience.
Stop 4: Lover’s Lighthouse by Sharon Dowell (@sharon_dowell) & Christopher Holston (@christopher.holston.art)
1616 Camden Rd.
About Lover’s Lighthouse:
Sharon Dowell and Christopher Holston, Charlotte-based painters, created an illuminated lightbox in the second story conference room of 1616 Camden. Their original design of colorful cutout shapes comes to life printed on frosted vinyl film placed directly on the room’s exterior windows and wraps around the exterior. Illuminated from within by rotating and slow changing LED lights, the design’s colors change and shapes dance projected from the building’s conference room-turned-lightbox installation. At times, the last year seemed to be the year of taking a deep breath. The vibrant window murals seem to bellow air, portraying a space that appears alive.
About Sharon Dowell & Christopher Holston
Sharon Dowell is a painter with a focus on works on canvas, murals and public art. Intertwining themes course through her work include the energy of place, renewal, regeneration, and redemption. Sharon views public art as a way to give back and shape communities for the better. She received a MA in Arts Administration from Winthrop and a BFA from UNCC. She has served as an Adjunct Professor and Gallery Coordinator at UNC Charlotte and as Director for Center of the Earth Gallery. Her commissions include large scale mural, light rail station and transit projects for Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Boulder, CO and beyond.
Christopher Holston is a Charlotte-based painter, sculptor and muralist, recently showing in Prism at Alchemy Gallery and is part of the ASC’s Regional Artist pool. Holston is also an Art Director and Set Designer with extensive experience designing and building sets for film and tv. Christopher finds meaning in the discipline requisite in the creative process. Christopher explores recurring themes of rebellion, meditation, emotional architecture, universal justice, love and loss.
Sharon and Chris’s collaborative paintings and murals layer abstracted imagery, texture and color. This project expands upon their past works together into a new media involving light and glass.
Stop 5: Seating ReArrangements by Ellie Richards (@ellieinthewoods)
118 E. Kingston Ave.
About Seating ReArrangements:
Created by sculptor and furniture designer, Ellie Richards, Seating ReArrangements is an engaging composition of ten motion-illuminated chairs on the Dilworth Artisan Station Plaza. Viewable from the Rail Trail, visitors will be invited by rotating colors of embedded LED lights within plywood chairs to this socially-distanced seating arrangement.
The pandemic has altered the way we convene, and therefore the way furniture is situated in familiar spaces. Dining and leisurely activities typically taking place with closely placed chairs around a table have moved outdoors or disbanded altogether. This project considers these new behaviors and furniture layouts in outdoor space by creating a way for visitors to safely engage in the company of others through intentional arrangements that give way to an experience of social intimacy lost during this time.
About Ellie Richards:
As a furniture designer and sculptor, Ellie Richards is interested in the role the furniture plays in creating opportunities for a deeper connection between people and their sense of place. Ellie looks to the tradition of both woodworking and the readymade to create eclectic assemblage, installation, and objects exploring intersections of labor and leisure. She has traveled extensively to investigate the role play and improvisation have on the artistic process. Her work, both furniture and sculpture, has been included in exhibitions at the Mint Museum; Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design; SOFA Chicago; and the Society of Contemporary Craft. Most recently Richards was awarded Windgate residencies at the Center for Art in Wood, and in the wood/furniture design programs at San Diego State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is a three-year resident artist at Penland School of Craft.
Stop 6: Fairy Ring by Meredith Connelly (@meredith.connelly)
2102 South Blvd.
About Fairy Ring
Meredith Connelly, installation and paper artist, created Fairy Ring, composed of approximately eighty hand-sculpted thermoplastic fungi. Fairy Ring, embedded on the grassy corner in front of Atherton Market, appears like a naturally occurring phenomenon that serves as its inspiration. Fairy rings emerge as a ring or arc of mushrooms in various climates and locations around the world and have deep ties to ancient mythology. Each mushroom varies in size and contains internal light that softly diffuses through the thermoplastic to create a soft and grounded glow. Meredith is fascinated with how viewers react to her large-scale artificially illuminated sculptures, always taking cues from the natural world. She seeks to bright light, warmth, and magic to the community by transforming perception of space and inspiring contemplation in the beauty of nature.
About Meredith Connelly
Meredith Connelly is equally inspired by science, nature, and technology. Connelly illuminates her installations and often encases her lighting in everyday, manufactured materials to reveal to their surprisingly organic qualities. To further connect and submerge viewers into her glowing environments, the artist incorporates multi-sensory and interactive elements into her sculptures. Connelly also creates complex hand-cut paper works reflective of the microscopic world, and presses them in glass to parallel microscope slides. Whether creating large-scale sculptural works or hand cutting patterns into sheets of paper, she remains intrigued by the endless possibilities of her materials.
Meredith has been selected for public projects such as the Community Supported Arts Program through the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina, and her current temporary public project “Lights”, is on view at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina through mid-February 2021.
Make sure to go check it out before it is gone on March 7th. We missed last year’s display and regretted it, so don’t be like us! It’s a really nice & fun experience. We went on a Sunday evening and were able to see everything easier. A weekday or Sunday might be best, as Friday and Saturday were really crowded, as South End usually is.
For other things to do in Charlotte check out these other posts:
Lesser Known Instagrammable Spots