Last November, Citizen Schools students at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School received a special visit from Tom Stanley, Charlotte area artist and chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Winthrop University. Stanley is one of 16 artists selected to create public art for the Charlotte Area Transit System’s Blue Line Extension, which will run from 9th Street opposite the UNC Charlotte Center City campus to the UNC Charlotte main campus. The future Tom Hunter light rail station was designated to Stanley, so he tapped into the creative pool in the Hidden Valley neighborhood, visiting Hidden Valley Elementary School and MLK Jr. Middle School last fall to get the children's perspective.
“As an educator, I often find that the best ideas can be generated by young people whose energy and intuitive approach to images and words can be refreshing, direct and honest,” said Stanley.
During Stanley's visit to the Citizen Schools program at MLK, he taught students about public art in Charlotte and across the nation. He also explained how he was working to produce public art for a light rail station that will serve Hidden Valley and other nearby neighborhoods. The artist then invited the students to assist in the development of his public art for Tom Hunter Station. Citizen Schools students wrote poems and prose about their neighborhood, which the artist will use on the columns at the future light rail station.
Judy Dellert-O'Keef, CATS Public and Community Relations Specialist, witnessed Stanley in action with the students and shared the following observation:
"It was a lot of fun to see the children interact with the artist, and the great skills they have already at such a young age."
Stanley's proposed work, along with the other CATS artists' work, is currently on view at the Storrs Gallery at UNCC until Feb. 28, when it will move to the Innovation Institute at McColl Center for Visual Art from March 8-30.
The exhibition is sponsored by the CATS Art-in-Transit program with support from the Innovation Institute, McColl Center for Visual Art and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture.