The University of North Carolina School of the Arts will participate in the UNITY project, a temporary interactive art installation which seeks to counteract divisiveness, negativity and bigotry. Students, faculty and staff have been invited to help create the installation on Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 17-19, on the lawn adjacent to Hanes Student Commons. The installation will remain in place for public viewing for several weeks.

“As the arts conservatory for the 21st century, we are empowering the next generation of creative storytellers to embrace diversity and inclusiveness,” said Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ward Caldwell. “We believe that artists in particular can change the tone of our political conversation by celebrating our differences, exploring our connections and appreciating how we impact each other.”

UNCSA’s version of UNITY is a large circular arrangement of 32 poles with a center starting block. Each pole is labeled with an identifier. For example, “I speak more than one language,” or “I identify as LGBTQ.” The center block represents “I am an artist.”  With colored yarn, participants begin at the center block then tie to each pole with which they identify. A canopy of interconnectedness forms as more people participate.

“In the end, we see that we are all connected,” said Joanne Moore, who teaches producing in the School of Filmmaking and proposed the project at UNCSA. “UNITY is a visual manifestation of how each unique individual contributes to the whole community and how we can create something beautiful together.”

UNITY was conceived by Nancy Belmont, CEO and Chief Inspiration Officer at Vessence Corporation.  In 2015 she launched another project, the Courage Wall, as a way to raise awareness of the fears that hold us back from living big, bold authentic lives. She launched UNITY  project in 2016 in Alexandria, Va.  The Courage Wall and UNITY are both projects that fall under her #WeLiveBig initiative to promote human flourishing.

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Originally published Oct. 11, 2018.