Made in CLT Brings Stream of Pop Up Public Art Installations to the Queen City! Catch ‘em while you can!

Nov 21, 2021 / Blog
By Liz Rothaus Bertrand

Have you noticed new artworks springing up around town? Made in CLT is a brand new initiative that highlights local artists and the incredible array of innovative works they are creating.


It was originally conceived as part of Charlotte SHOUT!, but when this year’s festival was canceled, Blumenthal Performing Arts worked with individual artists to find new opportunities and locations to highlight their work throughout the next year.


There are 24 projects slated to roll out through 2022. Keep checking our Instagram (@Blumenthalarts) or for details on where you can find the latest creations.


“In the spirit of the festival, we want to practice less rigid planning and structure for the public to adhere to but rather continue to create a landscape of free events that spontaneously pop up around town,” says Bree Stallings, Blumenthal’s Director of Artistic Experiences, adding that the coming artwork will be bold, playful and aware. 


Right now, you can catch two incredible Made in CLT installations at Two Wells Fargo Plaza (301 Tryon street, between 3rd Street and East MLK, Jr. Blvd.)


“Energy Field Tokens” by KiiK Create and “Project 1839” by Aguinaldo Santos, Jr. are only up through Nov. 24 and well worth a visit. Take a break from your turkey and holiday prep and check them out. Here’s a closer look at these projects and the artists behind them.




About the Artwork

In “Energy Field Tokens,” artists Manoela Madera and Gray Edgerton (who go by the name KiiK Create) bring vibrant colors and abstract forms together in six striking sculptures. Each one represents a distinct virtue with unique characteristics. They include wisdom, attraction, balance, resilience, abundance, and transformation. The artists envision the sculptures as "human energy charging stations" that will revitalize viewers in different ways.



A post shared by Manoela & Gray (@kiikcreate)


See which one pulls you in and whether it relates to something going on in your life, the couple suggest. In its work, KiiK Create explores how color makes us feel and affects us in a visceral way. “We wanted it to catch your eye and stop you in your tracks,” Madera says.


“Energy Field Tokens” is a concept they have been thinking about for years, turning some of their two-dimensional paintings and murals into three-dimensional, free-standing sculptures.


“This is definitely a huge milestone for us,” Edgerton says, “And we’re really happy it got to happen here in our new home.”


By the way, the “Energy Field Tokens” are available for purchase, if you’d like to give them a permanent home...



A post shared by Manoela & Gray (@kiikcreate)


Meet the Artists

Married couple Manoela Madera and Gray Edgerton met while studying at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Madera is originally from Puerto Rico, and Edgerton grew up in Rutherfordton, NC. Since graduating, they have collaborated to create bold, abstract works of art in a variety of mediums.



A post shared by Manoela & Gray (@kiikcreate)


They lived and worked in Puerto Rico for a few years, where they became especially well known for their vibrant murals. They returned to Brooklyn when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017. And in the midst of the pandemic, they made another move: this time to Matthews, with their two young girls in tow. Moving from a tiny New York apartment to a more spacious abode, with room for a home studio has made a big difference.


"We were starting to get stir crazy," Madera says.


In their artwork, they explore the themes of portals, alternate realities and high energy through color and geometric patterns. They follow these same guiding principles whether they are designing big projects—think murals, skateboard ramps, and tennis courts—or smaller collectibles, like fine art prints and wearable art.


They are grateful for the warm welcome they have received from so many people in Charlotte’s creative community. “It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience,” Madera says.


Instagram: @kiikcreate



A post shared by Manoela & Gray (@kiikcreate)




About the Artwork

“Project 1839” is a fun way to explore the evolution of the camera, learn about photography and the history of Charlotte via images. It's a giant recreation of the first commercial camera, the daguerreotype process, which was introduced in Paris in 1839 (hence, the title!)


Within this work by Brazilian-born artist Aguinaldo Santos, Jr., there are historic pics of Charlotte and old cameras. A live projection of the Charlotte skyline also appears upside down, replicating the way an actual camera works—with refracted light bouncing off an object and initially creating an inverted image.



The outside of the artwork is decorated too, including one panel covered with images of eyes, since they work the same way as a camera lens. When you visit, try to spot some of the famous peepers staring back at you, including Spiderman, Billy Graham, and Leonardo Da Vinci.


Meet the Artist

Aguinaldo Santos, Jr. grew up in Brazil, where his passion for drawing began while he was still a young child. Art provided a space for him to dream, create and connect with others despite a difficult family situation at home. His parents struggled with alcohol addiction and by age 9, he was basically on his own. At age 13, he started his first job: collecting cans on the street. Creating art served as a refuge for him.


His cousin, a photographer, first introduced Santos to photography, and it was a revelation. “It was something magical,” Santos says, being able to capture the flash of an expression in a millisecond.



He went on to study architecture and work in design in Brazil but his dream was to come to the United States. He has been in Charlotte since December 2018, studying interior design and English at CPCC.


Santos says he is amazed by the diversity of local artwork he finds in Charlotte and is grateful for the support he has received from organizations like Blumenthal Performing Arts, Charlotte is Creative, and the project grant from Charlotte SHOUT!.


“This is my dream to see my project selected and on the main street of Charlotte,” Santos says.


Instagram: @ajsjunior