Three… two… one… BOOM! The fourth annual BOOM festival is taking over Plaza Midwood this weekend — Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28. BOOM is a three day arts experience that aims to highlight the power of art and the ways it can bring communities together by creating a space for artists and audiences to collaborate. The festival will feature a diverse range of visual artists, musicians, performers and poets who are helping create an explosive wave of creativity in the Charlotte region.
Included in the long list of excellent artists participating in BOOM are two HUG (Helpful, Unfettered Gift) Micro-Grant recipients: Andrea Downs and Nalee Thao. We took a moment to catch up with our them about the work they will have on display at BOOM.
Andrea Downs, Airing Out the ‘Dirty’ Laundry
Please describe your installation at BOOM.
Airing Out the ‘Dirty’ Laundry is an ongoing, participatory art project and collection of women’s* stories about strength, unity and resistance of oppression, injustice and exclusion. (*cis women, trans women and people who identify as women)
A pop-up installation of more than 300 pieces will be joined together on clotheslines around the “Intersection Living Room” from 1-8pm on Saturday and 1-5pm on Sunday. Admission to the installation is free.
What do you hope people will experience with your installation at BOOM?
Airing Out the ‘Dirty’ Laundry is participatory in 2 ways. Women will have the opportunity to create a piece (signed or anonymous) of visual storytelling in the moment and join it on the clothesline with the others. It will also become a part of all upcoming installations in Charlotte and around the county.
The top layer sewn over each piece of ‘dirty’ laundry flows freely and is meant to be lifted as an invitation to a continuous dialogue about women’s experiences and hopes. This layer is not hiding stories. Rather, it is meant to invite curiosity and engagement with the viewer.
What was your experience like last year?
Last year, I was given space at the Intersection stage to install Airing Out the ‘Dirty’ Laundry where I joined women’s stories together on clotheslines. I stayed all weekend and barely left that corner of Plaza Midwood. I had a blast getting to know other artists and creative people and felt energized by the range of what folks in our city are doing. I’m also really excited to have the opportunity to invite women to participate in the moment or give them information about how they can participate in the future.
Why is BOOM important to Charlotte?
It is a beautiful celebration of all things local, and emerging, and creative in Charlotte. I can’t imagine a better combination. The folks that coordinate this event are incredibly supportive people to artists in Charlotte. They are connecting artists with each other and with our community and making art accessible, and primarily free to the public.
Follow Andrea on Instagram to see more of her work.
Nalee Thao, If Walls Could Talk and The Habitat Art Revival
Please describe your activities during BOOM.
If Walls Could Talk (Live Murals): I’ve assembled a team of artists who represent local street art to live paint 6-8 murals during BOOM Fest. This year, we’re hosting a community mural so that our audience can interact with us.
The Habitat Art Revival: I’m partnering with Habitat for Humanity to gather artists and paint furniture for a charity auction. My all-female team of five will be hand-selecting furniture pieces from Charlotte ReStore and painting each piece live during BOOM. The auction will be held by Charlotte ReStore the week after BOOM. All proceeds will go towards funding Habitat homes.
What do you hope people will experience in your work?
This year I want people to experience art with their hands and not just their eyes. When you work with your hands, you’re creating magic. We need more magic in the world.
What was your experience like last year?
This will be my third time showcasing work with BOOM! Previously, I painted murals alongside a team of artists that I put together including my friends Arko, Dammit Wesley, Mike Wirth, HNin Nie and John Hairston.
It’s always a fun time painting with friends. I enjoyed hearing people talk about the different artists and their individual styles. I loved when they’d ask if they could paint too – which in my case is always yes.
Why is BOOM important to Charlotte? What does it mean to you?
Charlotte needs to be reminded that we are a creative city and BOOM does just that. BOOM is very special to me. It grants me with the opportunity to share with the community what I love and what I do, and the best part is that I never do it alone. I’m always inviting artists to come share alongside me.
Follow Nalee on Instagram to see more of her work.
Check out Andrea and Nalee’s — and dozens of other Charlottean artists’ — explosive pieces in Plaza Midwood this weekend at BOOM. The festival begins Friday, April 26 at 6:00 PM. For more information about the festival, the artists, or how to get involved; head over to BOOM’s official website here. Be sure to have a blast this weekend. Pun intended.
Do you have a project you’re trying to get started? Need a little nudge to get the ball rolling? Apply for a HUG Micro-Grant!
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