Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Grand Intimate: Public Art at Chapel Hill Public Library

A town with a public art mandate on town-financed building projects. A library with a big renovation. And an artist with a vision that drew on favorite childhood stories.  This fantastic project is one to bookmark! Enjoy– Erinn. 


by Daniel Siler, Marketing and Communications Manager, Chapel Hill Public Library

4BF84DA6-A060-485B-9B1F-8DCD697E04D1There’s an interesting wrinkle to living in Chapel Hill. Any town-financed construction requires the developer to set aside 1% of the total cost of the project for works of public art.

That applied to the Chapel Hill Public Library’s renovation in 2013. Out of more than 230 proposals for new art works to grace the library grounds, two imaginative projects were selected.The Grand Intimate is a grouping of four larger-than-life, hand-carved sculptures depicting animals commonly found in literature.

To welcome the Turtle, Rabbit, Snake, and Frog, the Library commissioned the artist and his wife to illustrate an all-ages coloring book (see a screenshot below), and partnered with a local wildlife rescue organization to have actual animals on-site, and made space for a hands-on sculpting exercise where kids could take a whack at the same limestone from which the sculptures are carved.

Screen shot 2015-09-28 at 7.50.11 PM


The morning started with an animal-themed story time, and the whole community joined in a grand unveiling ceremony. Kids have been crawling all over them and reading on them ever since.


  • Project name: The Grand Intimate
  • Artist: Todd Frahm, Stone Cloud Studios, Asheville, NC
  • Medium: Indiana limestone
  • Method: Tool-assisted carving
  • Cost: $40,000
  • Fun fact: Each sculpture weighs about 4,400 lbs

Find additional background on this project, you can visit the Chapel Hill Public Library website; the Library’s Flickr set also has more excellent photos of the whole project.

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