A big red ball — emphasis on big — will bounce into Chapel Hill Thursday, sticking around long enough to become the coolest thing in your Instagram feed.
We’re talking 250 pounds and 15 feet in diameter when inflated. Yes, it will be ginormous.
And the artist urges you to pose and play with the ball to your heart’s content.
The RedBall Project from Asheville-based artist Kurt Perschke, and it will be installed in seven locations at UNC and in Chapel Hill, with the locations changing each day between Sept. 20 to 26.
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It’s a birthday present of sorts to the community from the Ackland Art Museum. The UNC art museum is using the public art project to help kick off its year-long 60th birthday celebration.
The museum also is opening a new exhibit Friday, Sept. 21, called “Birthday Presents,” which will showcase 60 pieces of art from 30 donors.
But the RedBall Project, which has traveled around the world — from Paris to Taipei to Chicago — is sure to catch the attention of even the most casual observer.
It will debut at South Building Thursday, taking an hour or so to inflate the sphere made of heavy-duty PVC fabric. Then it will move to the Undergraduate Library on Friday and the Hanes Arch next to the Ackland on Saturday before it rolls across the street to the alley next to the Varsity movie theater.
Look for it to continue its travels to Koury Residence Hall on UNC’s South Campus before it heads away from campus Tuesday, to the Chapel Hill Public Library. It will end its roll Wednesday back at UNC.
Perschke was commissioned in 2001 to create a piece of public art for St. Louis, he recently told The New York Times.
In an FAQ on his website, he elaborated: “I kept coming back to this ugly area, underneath an overpass with a bit of gravel on the ground. ... RedBall came out of my thinking about that space, and how to show what I was seeing. After many false starts I drew this huge red sphere under the bridge, and laughed out loud. I felt like that was it.”
Indeed, Perschke thinks the piece projects energy, humor and a sense of play, according to his website. That’s why it’s red, he says in press materials. And that’s why he chooses the locations for the ball carefully. He says he pays attention to scale and motion — the juxtaposition of the ball’s location with a building and how traveling to a new site creates an entirely different experience.
“I think it’s essential for public work to do more than be ‘outdoors,’” he said on his website. “It needs to live in the public’s imagination. ... Creating a sense of play is serious business.”
While the ball has been around for years — going to about three cities a year — a 2015 video of the ball breaking free during a storm in Toledo, Ohio, recently and inexplicably gained newfound attention. A Germany-based designer tweeted out a clip, and before it was deleted, it was shared thousands of times.
Here are the locations for the RedBall Project. People are encouraged to post photos with the #redballproject hashtag on social media.
▪ Sept. 20: South Building, UNC
▪ Sept. 21: R.B. House Undergraduate Library, UNC
▪ Sept. 22: Hanes Arch next to Ackland Art Museum, 101 S. Columbia St., Chapel Hill
▪ Sept. 23: Alley next to Varsity theater, 121 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill
▪ Sept. 24: Trellis along Manning Drive at Koury Residence Hall, UNC
▪ Sept. 25: Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive, Chapel Hill. There will be a talk with the artist at 4 p.m.
▪ Sept. 26: Forest Theatre, 123 S. Boundary St.