Of Earth and Sky

Sep 27 - Oct 31, 2021
Sep 27 - Oct 31, 2021

Event Description

About the Artist

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in the UK but working internationally since 1997, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the world. He is now known globally for his innovative arts practice and large scale public artworks.

With many of his artworks in permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Wellcome Collection in London, he also tours his art installations to art festivals and museums. Working with some of the most established cultural organisations to create his artworks, in 2019 alone, he had 117 exhibitions in 22 different countries around the world.

In 2020 was given an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bristol, made an Honorary Academician of the RWA and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

In 2019 he set up and funded both the Dreamtime Fellowship to support recent graduates in his home city of Bristol and the Bristol Schools Arts Fund to support secondary schools in Bristol impacted by austerity.

His artwork the Museum of the Moon is one of Luke’s most successful arts projects that has caught the public’s imagination which so far has been presented in different ways, more than 150 times in 30 different countries. Experienced by more than 10 million people worldwide, the artwork has recently toured India with the British Council, been presented at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, Art Basel in Miami 2020 and exhibited in Aarhus, Denmark for the European Capital of Culture. In 2019 it was presented at Glastonbury Festival and even on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in Blackpool. With universal appeal, the exhibit has been breaking audience records in venues around the globe. 2.1 million people visited the artwork when it was presented at the National History Museum, making it one of the most popular exhibits in the institutions history.

Learning from each artwork and moving on, Jerram is continually re-inventing his arts practice. As his practice is well known yet quite diverse, Luke Jerram was described by Bloomberg Television as “probably the most famous artist you’ve never heard of“.

Bringing “Of Earth and Sky" to Charlotte

When the journey first began to bring Luke Jerram’s Of Earth And Sky to Charlotte, we started thinking of prompts that would help people elicit their feelings for our place, in this precious moment in time.

A metropolis with small town roots, a fast city with a slow Southern drawl, a municipality centered around banking that is shifting out of its teenage identity, and into its more fully realized one. One where artists are welcome, public green space is taking back its power, and people pause to breathe before further building their careers and families. The air of change here is palpable.

And, to top it off, presenting this at the end of a shutdown year. A year where we connected only by brightly lit computer screen squares or terse meetings in the grocery store, scared of what we might have and what we might not have. We, this city and its people, are at the apex of a held breath. When the prompts for the workshops, and the eventual poem installations, came about, we were thinking about capturing the places that are both corporate and artful; the bus stop that is both liminal and home; the street corners that are both places for protest and proposals. The beauty is in the articulation of the both/and.

The beauty is in the contrast, like all good art. And that’s the power of the poet and the audience. To make meaning where there was none. To know the power of a well-timed pause.

Of Earth And Sky is invited to Charlotte as the offering of an exhale – a small moment of escape, a way of looking at our city, and ourselves, differently, and to remember we all were put on this world to draw metaphor where there is fact, and to make special the mundane.

 

Bree Stallings
Director of Artistic Experiences
Blumenthal Performing Arts

A Message from Tom Gabbard, CEO of Blumenthal

The last few years, BPA has given lots of attention to “place making” as a strategy to ratchet up the vibrancy of our city. Smartly weaving together visual and performing arts creates places where people want to be and hang out.  They also inspire, and—particularly important now— provide uplift to our spirits.

 

To successfully restart our stages, we have to also restart our city. These free, frequently outdoor art projects are giving us that opportunity to help safely reenergize our city. Uptown has particularly taken a hit in vibrancy as many uptown office workers are still working at home. We’re eager to play a part in giving people throughout the region great reasons to visit Uptown.

 

There’s no question we’ve gone further and faster during Covid. Since we couldn’t get shows for our interior venues, why not create some great public art that could help inspire and engage our community at a time when we need it even more? 

 

As for choosing these projects, even pre-Covid, we’ve had abundant curiosity to uncover interesting projects that are timely, a match for City and hopefully fill gaps in what the public has access to. Members of our team travel internationally (at least pre-Covid) to seek out these new ideas. Many times, we are looking for fantastic ideas/projects that can be tweaked a bit to make it our own.

 

In the case of Luke Jerram, a staff member first came across his moon project that people can see this month in Belmont, N.C. That led us to Gaia, which we thought was best to start with at a moment when many of us are concerned about the health of our planet.  

 

We also want to acknowledge there is some spontaneity to what we’re doing that these times necessitate. Charlotte loves multi-year plans. This, proudly, is not. Immersive Van Gogh, from saying yes to welcoming the first attendee was done in all of four months. That also enables a level of discovery we like, as people are able to find and experience these things themselves. Welcome to Covid Times.

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