CHARLOTTE, N.C. — ArtPop Street Gallery, a Charlotte nonprofit, is connecting art to the community one advertisement at a time.
The group takes different local artists’ work and displays it for free at places like the Charlotte Airport, public transportation stops and even newspaper stands.
"We are open to the 13 county region so that way, artists from more rural areas also had the same opportunities as we do here in Mecklenburg County," Brooke Gibbons, ArtPop Street Gallery Director of Impact and Sustainability said.
One of the winners of the nonprofit's 'Cities Program' is East Mecklenburg High School art teacher Tina Vincent.
"My favorite thing is to create things," Vincent said. "Like using a material that's underestimated to make something beautiful, because I feel like I was always kind of a little bit underestimated."
Vincent uses paper mache to create dynamic sculptures. The artist said she found her love for art in a classroom not much different than her own.
"At the school that I went to we had to choose between music, technology and art," Vincent said. "And I just figured I could sit and talk to my friends and draw pictures. Like that was actually the rationale."
Now she finds her art being featured across the Charlotte area on billboards.
"It's a celebration of skin tones. It's a celebration of different body types and curves," Vincent said.
It’s also a celebration of her and women like her.
"With women having children and all the things we have to do, and just celebrating that and not saying oh, well, you have to have this certain body type or this certain skin tone in order to be beautiful," Vincent said.
ArtPop has about $7 million of public media space dedicated to showcasing local art like Vincent’s.
"That equates to about 1 billion media impressions in one year," Gibbons said.
The media space is donated through a number of local businesses and other donors.
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"You may see them on billboards on the freeway, on the light rail at airports, that's digital billboards and signs at retail developments and movie theater lobbies around the country," Gibbons said.
The showcases also mean exposure for new and experienced artists.
"We always say exposure does not pay the bills, but getting your name and your artwork out there certainly does make a difference and it creates so many opportunities for our artists," Gibbons said.
Vincent’s art, in sculpture form sits, is in her classroom as a visual reminder for her students that they can do anything.
"Don't worry about people don't worry about what they think or what they're saying about it," Vincent said. "If you really believe and you really feel like you have a passion for something, just keep working at it," Vincent said.
Vincent’s paper mache sculptures, presented on billboards can be seen across Charlotte and surrounding counties. They're also on newsstands in Uptown, Charlotte Douglas International Airport and digital displays in South Park and Ballantyne.
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