Bright Lights, Big City

A radiant public art project welcomes people to uptown
Peter Taylor

It’s not something you’d expect to find at a highway underpass: sixty colored LEDs pulsing through three distinct designs. Passing Through Lights, a public art installation at I-77 and West Trade Street, ushers drivers into uptown in a brilliant way. The art was born of a partnership between Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council and Johnson C. Smith University in an effort to revitalize this portion of the west side. Austrian artist Erwin Redl drew design inspiration from the surrounding neighborhood and anchored the work in the university’s colors of blue and yellow. “It was a very bland, utilitarian structure,” he says. “To me it is very pleasant to see something so pure, that emphasizes the beauty of the area.”