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Public Art Unveiling: UNBOUND

Over the past year, an artist has quietly collected thousands of mementos that represent life in Chapel Hill. Family recipes, stories, movies, menus, school papers, photos both old and new, and even love letters.  These are all now part of UNBOUND, a new video-based permanent public art installation for the Chapel Hill Public Library (CHPL).

The community is invited to be a part of the official unveiling and installation of UNBOUND at the Library on Friday, March 11th at 7:00 p.m.

A public reception with refreshments will follow.

Images and items that represent the people, places, and activities that bind Chapel Hill as a community were gathered through scanning sessions, personal meetings, an online portal, and social media. The artist also spent several weeks touring the area, taking photographs, researching archives, and speaking with all sorts of people, from historians and school children, to folks on the street. Those thousands of moments have been preserved and will be on display in a mixed media installation located on the walls near the Library’s main entrance.

The artwork consists of a series of four cantilevered, wedge shaped panels with surfaces of etched glass. Subtle graphics within the panels reference different modes of recording information: cursive writing, Morse code, shorthand, and binary code. Convex lenses strategically placed on the panels are based upon Braille characters, the first digital language, and also contain a specific message.

Here's a preview of how one section of the piece will look:


Through glass portals viewers will see, in a random order, images, photographs, movies, and more that were submitted by the people of Chapel Hill. The images are displayed on a series of hidden video monitors, behind the panels, that are computer controlled to allow for endless combinations of image sequences.  As visitors interact with the artwork, the content is revealed in different ways.

Erik Carlson is a media artist, composer and designer based in Providence, RI. He was selected to create this amazing work of art for CHPL from a pool of 235 applicants. Erik’s recent media-inspired installations can be seen in San Diego, Denver, Nashville, Dubai, and now Chapel Hill. An overview of his work can be found at

UNBOUND is part of the Town’s Percent for Art program, established in 2002, which allocates 1% of selected capital project expenditures for public art. The selection committee included members of the Public Arts Commission, Town Council, Library and Town staff, as well as members of the local arts community. Carlson was chosen for this project after a rigorous selection process.

To learn more about the process that developed the piece, visit For information about the Town of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department’s Division of Cultural Arts and the Percent for Art program, visit   

Last updated: 8 March 2016