March 2023 marked the end of this iteration of the Art in the Heart program. Please note–Lara Nguyen’s project, Letters to my Children, has been pushed to July 2023.
Did you view an Art in the Heart project in the plaza? Did one of the projects make you feel inspired about the future of Pack Square Plaza? Let us know!
Final photos have been or will be added to the project profiles below as they are installed/completed.
The selection panel reviewed a lot of incredible submissions, but the projects listed below rose to the top. With the removal of the Vance Monument, and the start of the Pack Square Plaza Visioning and Improvements project, the Plaza will soon enter into a new era. Art in the Heart is a way to unite, heal, and strengthen the community. Installations, artwork, and performances over the next 6 months will help spark important conversations on how to make this public space a place that reflects Asheville’s diverse community and history.
Upcoming in July:
Letters to my Children by Artist Lara Nguyen
Project Type: Photographic Mural, Interactive Experience
About the Project: Lara’s mission as an artist, teacher and mother is to encourage others to feel more and hurt less. Lara’s piece is a letter to her daughter, Moon, written over a large, DiBond photograph taken of her daughter in the summer of 2019, a year after Lara’s uLMS cancer diagnosis. She intended to leave the letter in a box for her daughter at the end of the world, but believes it will do more good in the world while she is still alive. She believes Pack Square should be a place to connect and, therefore, plans to sit with her piece while it lives in the plaza to encourage any potential conversations with passersby. Lara believes connection is key in promoting a more inclusive, equitable, and empathetic society and hopes to make people feel something while experiencing her artwork in this public space. She wants to empower people to feel and experience empathy and hopes that the experience will continue to ripple throughout people’s lives both privately and publicly. Art in all its forms, at its best, is used to connect people through their differences and sometimes through space and time. That is the power of art.
About the Artist: https://stonecloudstudio.com/
2523: A Speculative Monument by Artist Briar Coleman
Sculpture on display February 11-26, 2023
Audio visual projection on Saturdays, February 11, 18, & 25; 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Project Type: Sculpture
Project Sponsors and Collaborators: Collaborators include Tiffany De’Bellott and Shuvonda Harper with Center for Participatory Change, Catherine Mitchelle, Executive Director with River Front Development Group; and Brian Randall with Hall Fletcher Elementary
About the Project: Speculative fiction and science fiction are genres that probe into the future with the imagination. They ask “how might we live differently?” Briar’s sculpture will do the same representing a monument commissioned in the year 2523, five hundred years from now. They plan to install a transparent, nine-foot-tall obelisk that will be filled with swirling fog that will slowly disperse into the atmosphere through small holes in the top of the obelisk. Text and images will be projected onto the fog that represent what a monument could possibly be and say in 2523. The text will come from extensive interviews they will do with youth and leaders from the Asheville community. Briar’s project will collectively envision a future Asheville that has gone a long way to heal from its past, one that is not just equitable, but deeply flourishing. With the removal of the Vance monument, Asheville is now at a crossroads in its memorialization and has a unique opportunity to learn, grow, and heal.
About the Artist: Instagram @oikos_umbra
PLAYability: Integration not Separation by Artist Melissa Wilhoit with Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre
Dance Performance in three, 20 min. acts,
Sat. & Sun., Mar. 4 & 5 starting at 12:30 p.m.
Project Type: Performance
Project Sponsors and Collaborators: Collaboration with dancers from the New Studio of Dance, a studio affiliated with the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre (ACDT). Musical collaboration with musician Elizabeth Lang. Additional funding will be provided by ACDT.
About the Project: PLAYability acknowledges that Pack Square Plaza has belonged and was used as a central gathering point for Indigenous peoples, for departing soldiers, for new Black voters, for demonstrations, and for celebrations. This land has and still is playable for a variety of human interaction and assembly. PLAYability is a choreographic work in three parts, taking place over three weekends, recognizing and celebrating key moments in the history of Pack Square Park: honoring the ancient Indigenous burial grounds nearby, remembering the beginning of the Black vote in Asheville, and celebrating this piece of land that has been dedicated to ceremony and festivity. PLAYability will contain built-in improvisational structures that are open to moment by moment chance interruption. Dancers of various race, gender, age, body type and ability will interact with each other and the environment in reverent, bold and playful ways to create an open and safe terrain for anyone to join in and participate. Connection with each other and the space will build an atmosphere of integration rather than walls of separation. Community members and tourists will be invited to join in the movement as it progresses and travels around the park.
About the Artist: https://www.acdt.org/
Homesick by Artists Leslie Rosenberg, Ethan Schultz, and Liz Trader Williams
Sculpture on display November 5-30, 2022
Audio visual projection on Saturday evenings in November, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Project Type: Sculpture and Interactive Experience
Project Sponsors and Collaborators: Collaborating with BeLoved Asheville, 12 Baskets – Asheville Poverty Initiative, photographer Ponkho Bermejo, and Haywood Street Church
About the Project: “Homesick” is composed of 12 large, floating house structures. The houses are tightly composed and staggered in height reaching upward to 15 feet. On Saturday evenings throughout the month of November, these large, whimsical houses will light up with dynamic video projections playing in unison with audio samples, including testimonials of Asheville residents speaking on behalf of their housing experiences. Chalkboards welcome the community to engage in dialogue on how Asheville serves as home: “what defines home?”, and “what memories does home conjure?” Special thanks to all of those who shared their stories for this project.
About the Artists:
Leslie Rosenberg: https://www.theartofbelonging.org/
Liz Trader Williams: https://makemesomeart.com/
Ethan Schultz: Instagram @wow_whatablessing
Miscanthus Sunshine by Artist Larry Paul King
Sculpture on display November 21-tbd, 2022/23
Project Type: Natural sculpture
About the Project: Miscanthus, (an incursive, ornamental, tall grass) is known for its wavering white/silver flowers during summer and fall. When its protective leaf blades are removed its yellow culms express pure sunshine. King’s sculpture consists of 15 to 20 steel-wired bundles of Miscanthus culms arranged in a manner to express radiant spikes of sunshine. Each 5 to 9 foot bundle will have a ribbon attached to its waist line in multitudes of 5 colors: black, brown, red, white and yellow. The colors represent the basic color of mammals. Humans have used these colors in an attempt to denote and describe the visual appearance of people for hundreds of years for various reasons. Like the tall grass being stripped of its outer protective layer, King hopes that we, too, shed our protective layers of perceived bigotry and expose the goodness of sunshine that is contained deep within all of us.
About the Artist: https://larrypaulking.com/
Vance Tangram Obelisk by Artist Edwin Salas Acosta
Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27, 2022 – 1:30-4:30 p.m.
View a promotional video created by the artist.
View a video of the project created by the artist.
Download and print an activity sheet to do on your own!
Tag your creation or follow along at: #Vancegram, #ArtintheHeart, #EdwinSalasArt
Project Type: Interactive Experience
About the Project: A 12 ft x 4 ft obelisk that represents the former Vance Monument will be divided into colorful, geometric wooden blocks that can be used to create new fantastic shapes by the public. This interactive activity will explore how symbols of hate can be rebuilt to represent a better future. There will also be a smaller-scale, paper activity that users can play with on-site or take home and continue to experiment with on their own.
About the Artist: https://www.edwinsalas.com/
Our Careful Tending by Artists Tiffany Narron, Jen Murphy, and Lydia Nichole
October 15, 2022 – 5-8 p.m.
Project Type: Interactive Experience
Project Sponsors and Collaborators: Collaborating with Jen Murphy, a sculptor, puppet maker and founder of Street Creature Puppet Collective; and Lydia Nichole, a multimedia artist who works with a wide range of art forms including: papercut, ink paintings, poetry, wood carving, puppetry, stop motion animation, mosaic and sculpture.
About the Project: Our Careful Tending is a performance piece holding space for the presence of grief alongside space to bridge the dark and painful past with the present and all that is being called in to create a shared space that honors equity and promotes our collective wellbeing. There will be three persons in black robes holding large paper masks with ancient peaceful faces reading poetic words of healing. Five additional persons will walk alongside carrying lanterns to light the path forward.
About the Artists:
Tiffany Narron: https://tiffanynarron.com/ and Instagram @tiffanynarronwrites
Jen Murphy: www.jmurphyarts.com and Instagram @truffulatuft
Lydia Nichole: Instagram @danceonthewhale
Room in the Sky by Artist Jackson Martin
September 18 – October 30, 2022
Project Type: Sculpture
Project Sponsors and Collaborators: Sponsors include Dave Steel Company in Asheville and Sailrite Enterprises Inc. in Indiana.
About the Project: Room in the Sky will consist of twelve nylon flags of various colors hanging around a steel structure. The aesthetics and kinetic qualities of the completed sculpture will engage viewers to walk around it to experience the piece as a whole. The sculpture will be viewed as a plus sign or cross, a shape intended as both a symbol of inclusivity and healing. On each of the twelve sides of the structure, banners of solid colors will hang and fly freely in the wind. Solid colors were chosen in order to reach across both pride and indigenous peoples. The twelve chosen colors include the 6 quintessential rainbow colors from the original Pride Flag developed in the 1970’s, black and brown from the more recent Progress Flag, light blue and pink from the Transgender Flag and gray from the Asexual Flag. The colors in the official seal of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are red, yellow, green and light blue. The artist recognizes there are dozens of colors used to represent diversity worldwide, with this sculpture only accommodating twelve, however, the meaning behind this work embraces a harmonious and heterogeneous society.
About the Artist: https://www.jacksonmartin.com/
Haus of Hues by Artist Katerine N. Viloria Monagas
September 18-30, 2022
Project Type: Installation, Interactive Experience
About the Project: Katt’s temporary installation will create an atmosphere that celebrates all colors of the spectrum in collaboration with nature using prisms, mirrors, and multicolored lights. It will become a celebratory, photogenic experience for both locals and visitors to enjoy. Pack Square Plaza is a location with endless potential that can become a beacon of hope, leaving its tainted history in the past and moving forward to create a new history full of inclusivity, creativity and community.
About the Artist:
The Faces of Change by Artist Cynde Allen with Youth Artists Empowered
September 17-24, 2022
Film Short Screening on September 18, 2022 at 7 p.m.
Project Type: Exhibit and Interactive Experience
Project Sponsors and Collaborators: Collaborating with Youth Artists Empowered (YAE)
About the Project: Youth Artists Empowered in collaboration with Tepeyac Consulting and with support from the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability created “The Faces of Change” Climate Justice Project. This project informed and empowered youth artists from impacted communities to share their perspectives of the world around them through digital photography. Within this project, they shared tools, information, and resources to activate and engage the youth in global conversations through art. The youth were given information about the current climate changes in Asheville through climate data maps, future climate crisis projections, as well as local and regional demographics. This body of work offers the community a glimpse of the artists’ responses to these ethical, environmental, and social injustices. The installation will include large, weatherproof images collected from the neighborhoods the students visited, along with a 3×5 ft collage. A digital short film created by filmmaker and YAE student Cielo Vera will also be projected for one evening.
Leah and the Rabbit by Artists Mikayla Wilson, Aaron Snook, and Stephanie Hickling Beckman with the American Myth Center
September 17, 2022 – showings at 11 a.m. and noon
Project Type: Performance
Project Sponsors and Collaborators: Produced/curated by Aaron Snook and the American Myth Center. Mikayla Wilson will be the puppeteer to Leah, with Stephanie Hickling Beckman as the voice of Leah.
About the Project: “Leah and the Rabbit” was originally performed for the Vance Birthplace Historic Site. The show talks about the forgotten stories of the enslaved people owned by the Vance family. Leah Erwin is one of twenty seven known enslaved people that were owned and lived with the Vance family. Leah’s story is paired with the tales of Br’er Rabbit, a popular folk story character that was passed down by enslaved people but appropriated by white storytellers with racial bias. Many black people were brought to Asheville for cheap or enslaved labor to support the tourist industry in the antebellum period. Now, black people must compete with systems that favor the wealthy or privileged. This story is meant to question the people who are being removed from Asheville and who can afford to stay.
About the Artists: https://www.americanmythcenter.org/
In partnership with the Friends of Buncombe County Special Collections and Asheville’s Public Art and Cultural Commission, the City released a Call for Artists on May 25, 2022. A selection panel of external stakeholders and city staff did several rounds of review to narrow down applications. The City will support the production/installation of temporary public art projects and/or experiences in Pack Square Plaza, with artist stipends ranging from $500 to $1,500.
With the removal of the Vance Monument, and the start of the Pack Square Plaza Visioning and Improvements project, the Plaza will soon enter into a new era. Participating artists and creatives will help cultivate and facilitate critical conversations around the past, present, and future of Pack Square Plaza. A range of temporary artwork will be included in the program including: traditional, non-traditional, experiences, and performances.
Public spaces and monuments are dynamic and should be an inclusive reflection of the people and history they represent. Projects will address the theme of social equity and inclusion and respond to the following questions:
- What should Pack Square Plaza look and feel like in the future?
- What stories haven’t been told or represented in downtown Asheville?
Art in the Heart is a way to unite, heal, and strengthen the community. The goal is to use art to spark conversation and ideas on how to make Pack Square Plaza –a central gathering place and hub of activity for the region– a place that reflects Asheville’s diverse community. The program will help inspire and inform the larger initiative underway – creating a community vision for the future of this area through the Pack Square Plaza Visioning and Improvements project (www.ashevillenc.gov/packsquare).
January 28, 2022 – The City’s Public Art and Cultural Commission (PACC) held an Annual Retreat that focused on the Pack Square Plaza Visioning process and a temporary public art program to be launched. A link to the recording of the meeting is here.
February 17, 2022 – PACC recapped discussions about the Pack Square Plaza Visioning process as well as planning for an upcoming inventory of existing public art and memorials in Pack Square. A link to the recording of the discussion is here.
PACC also received an update from staff on a temporary public art program being developed in coordination with the upcoming Visioning process. A recording of this update is available here.
May 25, 2022 – Call for Artists released
June 21, 2022 – Deadline for applications extended
July 8, 2022 – Selection Panel meeting #1
August 4, 2022 – Selection Panel final review
August 15, 2022 – Announcement of selected artists
Late August – Schedule for September and October artists released
Late October – Schedule for November and December artists released
Late January, 2023 – Schedule for February and March artists released
Early March 2023 – Art in the Heart program ends
June 15, 2022 Slumber Party Radio show discussion about the program (starts at 21:43)
Urban Designer and Public Art Coordinator