The Durham community selected public artist Mikyoung Kim to re-imagine a rapidly transforming downtown corridor that links Durham’s major arts venues as an Arts and Entertainment District. Developers are making investments in commercial, retail, residential and hotel construction along the corridor, but is unappealing and difficult to walk. Durham’s SmART Vision Plan focuses on art components that address barriers to walkability and connectivity.
The first project, designed by artist Olalekan Jeyifous, was a series of vibrant banners that wrap a parking garage facade to encourage pedestrians to cross railroad tracks and explore downtown. Jeyifous’ designs include references to Durham’s history and people including Pauli Murray, the Hayti Heritage Center, Fitzgerald bricks and the Bull City hands. Durham in Continuum was recognized as one of the 50 outstanding public art projects in 2019 by the Public Art Network of the Americans for the Arts.
The second project is a series of Art-Deco inspired crosswalk designs at various locations along the corridor. Local artist Mary Carter Taub created three vibrant crosswalks that were installed at the American Tobacco Campus, Durham Armory and Durham Central Park.
Community and Economic Impact
- The City of Durham has established a public art program and allocated more than $500,000 for projects.
- More than $770 million has been invested in downtown Durham’s in private development since 2015.
- The Durham Arts Council has attracted several national and regional funders in support of Durham’s SmART projects.
- Visitation to Durham has grown 10-percent from 2015 to 2018.
- Durham was named one of the Most Vibrant Arts Communities in America in the 2018 Arts Vibrancy Index by The National Center for Arts Research.
- Durham ranked 7th among the medium-sized communities across the country.