Citizen-led public art project turns sewer risers on Raleigh greenway into a canvas

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The latest public art project in the city of Raleigh is turning concrete sewer manhole risers along a popular greenway off North Hills Drive into a canvas.

The public art project was developed through the city's Citizen-Initiated Projects, a program developed to encourage innovative creative art opportunities on city property or right-of-way.

Raleigh resident Laurie Nielsen, who's working on getting certified as an environmental educator, wrote the proposal for the public art project.



"It was my community partnership project to help me get certified as an environmental educator," Nielsen said. "Someone had done a similar project in Garner and it kind of clicked it would be fun to paint North Carolina butterflies on these concrete manhole casings."

The approval process took a few months - requiring Nielsen to find students to work with for the art project. She worked with students from the City of Raleigh teen outreach program - painting more than half a dozen concrete manhole casings along the Ironwood Trail over two days.

"Most of them had never visited a greenway before," Nielsen said. "They weren't aware of a greenway system so it came together really well. I just hope it is a pleasant surprise and opens people's eyes that there are native butterflies in North Carolina and possibly they would see some on the greenway while using it and be aware what they're looking at."

The city of Raleigh approved the Citizen-Initiated Projects process in 2014 and continues to take requests for citizen-led art projects.

"Here in Raleigh, this is the first," explained Kelly McChessney with Raleigh Arts.

"Since this project happened, we have another citizen-initiated proposal for art on other sewer operations so, I think we'll see more in the future," McChessney added.
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