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In spring 2018, Carolina arts students had the opportunity of a lifetime to contribute to a large-scale public art project with visual artist Nina Chanel Abney. Abney came to Carolina as a recipient of the Duke/UNC Nannerl Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship. Charged with contributing to the mission of both Duke and Carolina, Abney was the artist behind the mural that covered the Morrison Residence Hall basketball court.

Nina wants her art to provoke thought and conversation about politics, race, celebrity and consumerism. She inspired a class of ARTS 290 students to consider and carry out that artistic mission by working with her on the basketball court mural design. Though she had designed a basketball court before, this was Abney’s first time seeing the process all the way through, working side-by-side with the students to fill the court with color.

“The basketball court project was a really collaborative experience where the students brought different issues on campus to me and helped me find imagery related to those issues,” said Abney. “We worked together in coming up with the concept behind the basketball court.”

The mural was unveiled on April 6, 2018, days ahead of Carolina’s second-annual Arts Everywhere Day. Abney and studio arts students celebrated their work on Arts Everywhere Day with a visit to the court from Chancellor Folt and Emil Kang, Executive and Artistic Director of Carolina Performing Arts. It was one of dozens of arts experiences — including live drawings, musical performances, and poetry-on-demand — throughout Chapel Hill that day. The celebration showcases the diversity and integral nature of the arts at Carolina and connects them with students and community members alike.

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