Arts and Humanities

Uproar Fest to feature art staged outdoors in Orange County, including at UNC-Chapel Hill

Three works of art will be featured on campus near the Carolina Inn, in Porthole Alley and near Old West.

A silver sculpture.
A perforated, metal art piece by Susan Moffatt titled “Cirrus Veil” is installed near Abernathy Hall on July 12, 2023, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The art piece is one of several that have been installed throughout Orange County as a part of the Uproar Festival of Public Art. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

With many college students out of town, summer is typically the slowest season for local businesses in Orange County. This year, the Orange County Arts Commission is hoping to change that by hosting an arts festival that will bring artwork to Hillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hill, including on campus.

From July 14 to Aug. 12, the Commission will host Uproar Festival of Public Art, an arts festival that will feature 60 works of art staged outdoors in the three towns. The Commission is organizing the festival in coordination with the towns and other local partners.

Katie Murray, director of the Orange County Arts Commission, said the festival will celebrate local artists and more firmly establish Orange County as a destination for the arts while drawing crowds who will support Orange County businesses throughout the festival’s four-week duration.

Murray began considering staging this event after she started in her role several years ago. “I started thinking “What’s something big we could do in the summer to help our community and drive traffic into our towns?” she said.

Murray sought input from the Triangle-area arts community and used that feedback to design Uproar Fest in partnership with the three towns, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Arts Everywhere initiative, the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce, the Orange County Visitors Bureau, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and other local organizations. The festival is also sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The pieces on display during this festival will include sculptures, installations and projections throughout the downtown areas of the three towns. Three works will be featured on Carolina’s campus: Theresa Arico’s Blue Lotus Goddess at the Carolina Inn, Jim Arendt’s Signals and Warnings in Porthole Alley and Susan Moffat’s Cirrus Veil outside Old West at 193 E Cameron Ave.

Visitors to the festival will be invited to rate each piece of artwork on a scale of one to ten. The winner of the public vote will be awarded a $10,000 People’s Choice prize. Three cash prizes will also be awarded to the top works selected by a panel of judges, which includes Carolina alumni and local artists Stacy Kirby and Antoine Williams.

The prizes will be awarded on Aug. 12, the last day of the festival, during a free Awards Party at the Eno Arts Mill in Hillsborough. The event features interactive art activities, local food trucks and breweries and performances from local musical acts.