Artist Selected for Downtown Project

According to the N&O:

A designer with a striking, modern style will play a pivotal role in designing parts of downtown Chapel Hill's brick-laden landscape.

Mikyoung Kim will be the lead artist shaping the look of an estimated $75 million effort to transform two town-owned parking areas into a mix of condos, shops and open space.

Based in the Boston area, Kim has left her mark over the country and even abroad.

She has completed a huge canal project in Seoul, South Korea, helped redesign a federal courthouse in Little Rock, Ark., and worked on projects in a Boston wharf district, among many other projects.

Some of her most prominent work involves colorful fiber-optic lighting and illuminated streams of water. She describes it as "orchestrating an experience."

This seems like very big news for the town. Kim sounds like an artist whose work could help elevate downtown Chapel Hill in the region, especially given the potential of UNC's coming Arts Common.

Check out Kim's work here.



I'm not necessarily adverse to out-of-town experts, but isn't there someone local who could do this work?

It seems to me that, in addition to supporting local artists and designers, we get artwork and structures more in tune with our bioregion.

There are some things I cannot figure out from reading this article.

First, is Ms. Kim's work part of the 1% for public art expenditure that the town mandates for public projects, or she is a "designer" (i.e 'architectural designer') for the overall project?

Secondly, will there be any art by local artists in this project?

Third, who brought the contending artists to the review board of Bill Strom, Jim Ward, and the Public Arts Commission? Were these artists selected by Ram Development as part of their work on the overall project, or were they selected some other way?

Hello, OP

I am delighted that everyone is talking about Mikyoung Kim, who was selected on Friday 2 December 2005 to be the Lead Artist for public art on Lot 5 and the Wallace Deck. Because the article that appeared in the Saturday edition of the News & Observer contained some factual errors, I will take this opportunity to both correct aspects of the article and present a fuller picture of the process and the goals. I thank you in advance for your patience in reading this long post.

For almost three years, the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission (CHPAC) has participated in discussions about the redevelopment of Lots 2, 5, and the Wallace Deck in downtown Chapel Hill. Knowing that this important project would receive public art funding from RAM and the Town (under the percent for art ordinance), the CHPAC spoke with nationally recognized public artists and public art administrators from across the country to ask for their recommendations of public artists who could serve as Lead Artist for the project. The role of the Lead Artist is to join RAM's design team of architects, landscape designers, and engineers to identify the context for a minimum of three (3) public art projects; it is expected that the lead artist will be awarded one of the commissions. The Lead Artist will help shape the overall experience of the project and recommend how to integrate public art throughout its design.

The CHPAC received 22 names of artists working in the public realm who would be capable and appropriate for this commission. The CHPAC organized two committees: an Artist Recommendation Committee of peer professionals to short-list those artists who would be invited to Chapel Hill to interview for this commission, and an Artist Selection Committee to interview and select the Lead Artist for a short-term consultancy. The Artist Recommendation Committee included Tom Finkelpearl, former director of the New York City Percent for Art program and currently Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art; public artist Janet Zweig; Jean Greer, former director of public art for Broward County FL and currently Vice President Public Art for the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenberg County; Turan Duda, Principal of Duda-Paine Architects; and, myself, representing the CHPAC. The Artist Selection Committee included those named above as well as Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy; Town Council member Bill Strom; Assistant Town Manager Bruce Heflin; Elizabeth Taylor of the CHPAC; and, RAM Development founder Peter Cummings.

In October, the Artist Recommendation Committee reviewed the list of 22 public artists and identified nine public artists whom they believed would be able to respond to the project: its ineffable needs as well as its physical demands. Each of the nine artists was asked to submit a two page letter of interest and approach. In November, the Recommendation Committee short-listed three public artists to invite to Chapel Hill.

On Friday 2 December 2005, the larger Artist Selection Committee was convened at Town Hall to take a walking tour of the project sites with the artists and conduct the interviews. Each artist was asked to present her relevant experience, her initial impressions about the project, and answer questions; each interview lasted 75 minutes. The selection criteria included: Strength of Artistic Expression, Experience in Planning and Urban Design; Experience in a Collaborative Design Process; and, Project Management Skills. Specific questions that were asked included: (1) What excites you about this commission? (2) This is a high visibility project for Chapel Hill and public response will be varied or unpredictable. How will you maintain artistic integrity, take risks, and make the work relevant to this community? (3) Long term maintenance, care, and endurability of public artworks are important to us. What materials do you enjoy? (4) Please describe your experience working with other professionals (architects, engineers, developers, artists, etc.) (5) What are the key elements to a successful working relationship? (6) In your opinion what does it take to build trust among professional members of a design team, the community, public arts commissions, special interests, etc. (7) Involving the community and various stakeholders throughout the process is very important to us in Chapel Hill. How would you plan to involve different interests throughout planning and design of this project? (8) How will you manage the logistics of the project throughout planning, design, public reviews, and fabrication-construction? What resources are available in your studio? (9) What is your availability to work on this important initial planning phase of the project during December 2005 through March 2006? What other projects are you involved with at this time - or will be involved within the next year?

Mikyoung Kim was a unanimous selection. As part of her consultancy, she is charged with establishing the design parameters for the other two or three public art commissions, including their budgets and general locations. Although the CHPAC will issue a national Call for Artists qualifications for these new permanent public artworks, we would very much like to engage an emerging public artist from North Carolina in some aspect of this project, whether as an associate/apprentice to an experienced artist or with a modest commission of their own.

The CHPAC will be creating an on-going design review committee, which will engage with Ms Kim and offer aesthetic direction. Her work will then become a part of RAM's formal Conceptual Design proposal to the Town of Chapel Hill. We are hoping to hold a news conference on Thursday 15 December, to introduce Mikyoung to the community: I will keep you informed as plans process. In the meantime, I hope you will review her work at her website:

I hope that this additional information clarifies the process that was taken, and illuminates the role of the Lead Artist and the goals and objectives for the integration of public art on these sites.


Kim's website crashed my browser. :-(

Ms. Kagan, thank you for an expanded explanation that clarified a number of issues. I'm disappointed that this process has not been better covered in our local media.

All I can say is . . . praise be. I'd just about given up hope.

Her website didn't crash my browser--but it gave me a headache. Still, the stuff I saw (before I fled) was interesting.


Hello, OP

For those of you who might be interested in meeting Mikyoung Kim, the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission, Mayor Kevin Foy, and project representatives from RAM will jointly host a brief news conference on Thursday 15 December at 12:45pm on the corner of Church and Franklin Streets. If the weather does not cooperate, we will be at Town Hall.


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.