As the Triangle grows at an exponential rate, artist Carter Hubbard wants to make sure residents still feel connected — and grounded — to the land that brought them here.
For Hubbard, that looks like Floraffiti — plants popping out of the ground in the shape of words. They're leafy words like optimism, create, breathe and pause.
The community art program is in its sixth year in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and the public art project is expanding to Raleigh this summer.
Floraffiti — a combination of the words flora and graffiti — is about “communication, trust and relationship, the building blocks of a healthy community," Hubbard said.
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It “creates a sense of place that everyone can connect to," Hubbard said. "As the project deepens in the years to come, it has the capacity to open a door to much-needed dialogue and to build community bridges.”
In both Orange County and downtown Raleigh, participants have planted clover flowers, Hubbard said.
Hubbard, a former Triangle resident who now lives in Portland, Oregon, started planting words with friends six years ago.
“We did it the first few years secretively,” said Hubbard, who describes herself as a "visual linguist." “But as it grew literally and figuratively, more people wanted to be part of it.”
The blossoming words in Carrboro and Chapel Hill were planted by participants in a poetry workshop who decided to grow words from their works. On Friday, May 11, participants will perform around their words at the height of the flowers' growth during the 2nd Friday ArtWalk.
Meanwhile, this is the first year Floraffiti has expanded to Raleigh. Last week, words were planted on the North Carolina State Capitol Lawn, Saint Saviour’s Center, Duke Energy for the Performing Arts, Nash Square and Duncan Parnell office space.
Some of the words include innovate, thrive, amplify, connect, walk and discover.
The words were selected from a 10-year plan for downtown Raleigh that was approved in 2015, said Kathleen Louis, director of business development at the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. The plan was developed by the City of Raleigh, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and other stakeholders to determine downtown Raleigh's park space, transportation opportunities and major projects, including Union Station.
Raleigh is “growing at an incredible rate, and the downtown is blossoming,” Hubbard said.
Floraffiti will help start conversations throughout downtown, help small children learn to read and spell, and allow residents to see their city with new eyes, Hubbard said.
While it's unknown when the words will fully appear, they're expected to start poking out of the ground in two to four weeks, Louis said.
As for how long the leafy words will stay legible, Hubbard said, “It's all mother nature."
▪ Floraffiti performances in Carrboro will be held May 11 at 6:30 p.m. outside the Carrboro ArtsCenter, 300 E. Main St.; and at 7:30 p.m. at the Carrboro Municipal Parking lot green space at 303 West Weaver St.
In Raleigh, look for words at the following locations:
▪ North Carolina State Capitol Lawn, north Side along West Edenton Street: Innovate, Create, Explore, Active Community
▪ Saint Saviour’s Center, 616 Tucker St.: Bloom, Thrive
▪ Duke Energy for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St.: Connect, Discover, Amplify
▪ Nash Square, South Dawson Street side: Grow, Relax, Play, Walk, Breathe, Pause
▪ Duncan Parnell, 201 Glenwood Ave.: Inspire