Interactive light shows will bring downtown Raleigh buildings to life

A new temporary public art installation is equal parts building graffiti, light show and live performance.

Raleigh Arts has brought the international arts collective OMAi to help local artists bring their works of art to life on notable buildings around downtown. Artists use an app to draw and then animate their work that is projected onto buildings for people to view at a series of shows.

At its root, the collective and technology is about collaboration. When musical artists come together, they’re free to improvise and adapt to one another in the moment. That’s harder for digital artists, who normally toil over their pieces before presenting them to the world.

Now artists can work on pieces of art at the same time, while inviting the audience to watch and help shape what they see.

The displays can be found on buildings at Dix Park, Saint Agnes Hospital and downtown during free viewings spaced through the early part of November.

“It’s a perfect fit,” said Linda Dallas, an associate professor of visual arts at St. Augustine’s University. “The storytelling. The interactive nature of it. Using visual arts as a performance piece. It’s a perfect, perfect fit for Saint Agnes.”


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She’s worked for years to bring attention to the historic hospital — the only place that would serve black people and train black nurses for decades — and is working to bring a permanent public art display to that site.

Markus Dorninger, the co-founder of OMAi and inventor of Tagtool, wants people who attend the showings to fill a sense of spontaneity and understand they are watching something unfold for the first time. The world, he said, is in the classical era of digital art. Digital art is primarily created for small rectangles: a computer, tablet or phone.

“We try to take the art outside the little rectangles,” he said. “Mobile devices are wonderful, but there’s so much attention in these little rectangles.”

This is only the third temporary and collaborative public art series that the city has brought to the area, said Kelly McChesney, the city’s public art director.

“The fact that they’re here and can bring this technology to the greater public, to a lot of students, a lot of artists, I think it’s going to help create ripple effects where more of these projects will happen around the city,” she said. “We heard form the public that they want more of these temporary, experiential art events that are kind of surprising. So we are trying to focus on doing a couple of these a year.”

Read the full story here

Want to go?

Projection Art at Dix Park

When: 6-9 p.m. with performances from 7-8 p.m. Nov. 9

Where: The Silos at Dorothea Dix Park, located at 60 Ruggles Drive, Raleigh

More info: People are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs for the performance. Bathrooms are onsite. Food and beer trucks and DJ will also be there.

Cost: Free but people are encouraged to register beforehand on Eventbrite. All of the Raleigh Art events can be found online at

Saint Agnes
Projection art by Dare Coulter at the old Saint Agnes Hospital site in Raleigh. // Kelly McChesney


Projection Art at Saint Agnes Hospital

When: 2-9 p.m. Nov. 10

Where: Saint Agnes Hospital at St. Augustine’s University, located at 1315 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh

More info: Urban Sketchers will perform from 2-5 p.m., a documentary screening begins at 3 p.m., augmented reality session begins at 4 p.m. and projection, art and food trucks will be from 6-10 p.m. From 7 -9 p.m. there will be spoken word and performances by the North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers.

Cost: Free but people are encouraged to register beforehand on Eventbrite. All of the Raleigh Art events can be found online at

Projection Art at 2018 Medal of Arts Awards

When: 6-9 p.m. Nov. 13

Where: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, located at 2 E. South St., Raleigh

More info: This show is part of the Medal of Arts Award show to recognize achievement in the arts.

Cost: Free but people are encouraged to register beforehand on Eventbrite. All of the Raleigh Art events can be found online at


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