Current Projects

​​​Center City Stops

Artists, Jim Hirschfield & Sonya Ishii


Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii read and take to heart the Center City Vision Plans when they state:

"The inspiration for determining a 'Charlotte way of doing things' can be found in the community's history and people as well as its culture and tradition. (2010 Plan) And, Center City Charlotte is a modern diversified and vibrant urban center comprised of many distinct neighborhoods . . . each with their own distinct character. These historic areas surround a core of nearly all modern buildings and new cityscape. This mix of bold new development with traditional neighborhoods makes Center City truly unique. (2020 Plan)"

Their designs for the West Trade Streetcar Stops begin with the community's history and people and uniquely reaches out to people using the transit system, or just passing by. And like the young Conrad Reed who in 1799 found the first gold nugget of the region on his family's farm, their art utilizes the allure of and metaphorical richness of gold and its prominence throughout human history. They link the importance of gold in the early growth of Charlotte, and its symbolic connection to Charlotte's contemporary status as a banking center. Simultaneously their designs intertwine Charlotte's significant industrial textile history. Yet, ultimately their intent for the shelters is to create a poetic work of art that that tie some of Charlotte's history with principal truths about the city's current growth and character. 


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​As the Vision Plan discusses, one of the greatest contributors to the city's excellent quality of life is its "small-town" feel and attitude. The artists address this with 10 contemporary "Portals" or "Gateways" to Charlotte's past, speaking to the importance of human relationships. Each of the ten transit shelters will include picture postcard images from Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library's archives. The images will be increased to nearly 16 times in size, making it appear as if one could simply walk into the image, if not for the overlying gold pattern, and find themselves on the streets of Charlotte in one of the city's earlier periods. In addition to its allusion to gold leaf, the pattern also creates a screen that obscures just enough the postcard image, locating it within a different dimension of time. The images will clearly maintain their postal card appearance, despite their scale, establishing a metaphorical connection to human interaction. In addition to the large images that stretch across the back of the shelters, the sides of the shelters will exhibit other historical postcards (actual scale) with their personal messages sent to family, friends and acquaintances

​Artist Bios

Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii have been collaborating on public art projects since the 1970's and are seasoned professionals in the field. They find the process of collaboration an energizing one, where individuals, working together, push the breadth and range of art possibilities. Having worked on a number of projects ranging from sculptural environments to design team collaborations, their strength lies in their ability to create a vision that is also a solution. The success of their projects begins with strong aesthetic designs that engage the viewer. Once engaged, the viewer discovers other layers of meaning within the work, providing the participant with a multifaceted and meaningful experience. Hirschfield is a professor of sculpture at UNC Chapel Hill and serves as the Art Department Chair and is an Advisory Council Member for AFTA's Public Art Network. Ishii is currently an instructor at the Chapel Hill Community Clay Studio. The team has ties to Charlotte, having been commissioned for projects at the Imaginon Library and the South Regional Library.