The Urban Eddy Adds Art and Connection to the new CLT Powerhouse

February 27, 2018 6:57 pm

Water has many different uses: drinking, cooking, cleaning, recreation, and even inspiration for South End’s new public art project, the Urban Eddy, created by Charlotte glass artist Carmella Jarvi.  

“Water is this common connection that we all have,” says Jarvi. “Whether you’re out in the country, in another country, in urban settings, we’re all connected through our need for water.”  

Earlier this year, Jarvi’s art installation was installed at the new CLT Powerhouse Studio on Camden Road, the former Charlotte Trolley Museum. For the project, Jarvi’s glasswork was photographed and printed on large vinyls that were adhered to the windows wrapping around the building, adding a pop of color to the revamped location. Jarvi pitched the project for a South End Creative Lab microgrant, which listed the space as an area for opportunity in South End.  

“I just thought what it really needs is just something on that building to bring people in and get their attention,” says Jarvi. 

South End Creative Lab is a microgrant program that allows anyone to create and implement an idea to improve the neighborhood. The program was inspired by the Knight Foundation’s Emerging City Champion and Knight Cities Challenge grant programs, which have brought projects including the Neighborhood Living Room and the Queen City Quiz Show to Charlotte and South End.  

“We wanted to find ways to help people who live and work in South End bring their creativity out to the streets and sidewalks,” says Megan Liddle Gude, the director of Historic South End. “There are all kinds of brilliant people and creative businesses in South End but you can’t always tell from the street that there are beautiful and amazing things happening behind the brick walls.” 

The projects supported by the South End Creative Lab include a temporary coloring book mural, colorful sidewalk chalk art, artwork on blank grey utility boxes, and a creative play festival in the future Wilmore Centennial Park. For Jarvi, the program provided an opportunity to break into public art and share her water-inspired glasswork with a wider audience.  

“We loved her concept of water and movement and color, and bringing nature into a landscape with a lot of pavement,” says Liddle Gude. 

Charlotte-native Jarvi has always been drawn to water and grew up spending much of her childhood around Lake Norman.  

“Even my name, Jarvi, is Finnish for lake,” Jarvi says. 

 Jarvi has incorporated her love for water into her artwork throughout her life with projects like painting women in water and taking underwater photos. After a trip to Mexico and seeing the bright blue water of Cozumel, she decided to make a move into glass, a medium that had always interested her.  

“It’s shiny and it’s beautiful,” says Jarvi. “What better material to show water than glass?” 

For the Urban Eddy project, Jarvi created 13 glass rounds using her kiln glass method. To create a new piece, she uses an electric kiln to melt the raw glass, cools it, breaks it, and fires it again; firing each piece at least five times.  

“I get a lot of depth and movement that looks more like blown glass than your typical kiln glass,” says Jarvi. 

By printing on both sides of the window vinyls, the depth of Jarvi’s glasswork is able to shine in the Urban Eddy installation, which reflects the new and exciting things happening inside the CLT Powerhouse Studio. Since being converted, the space has now hosted dozens of community meetings and workshops where citizens, developers, and planning professionals discuss how the city has changed so far along with ideas for the future. With its bright colors and welcoming appeal, the installation has already accomplished Jarvi’s goal for the project: to catch people’s attention and create a more welcoming space.  

“The fun thing is people have already noticed it, even as we were installing it,” says Jarvi. “People are stopping and taking pictures and looking at it.”   

Carmella Jarvis Urban Eddy installation can be seen at the CLT Powerhouse building located at 1507 Camden Road. 

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