Art is awesome. Poverty is not.

“Art is awesome, poverty is not.”

– The Urban Ministry Center

In conjunction with the opening of the photographic exhibit, Favelas: Architecture of Survival, the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture will hold a reception Friday, with a celebration of Brazilian arts. The event will be 6 to 8 p.m. at the Projective Eye Gallery at UNC Charlotte Center City.

The exhibit features 48 large-format photographs of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (shantytowns) by Brazilian photographer Pedro Lobo.

The events will also include Brazilian music and dancing by Cordão de Ouro Charlotte and Mestre Esquilo.

Lobo’s photographs are arresting, filled with vibrant colors and juxtapositions, homage to the lives of the individuals within the frail walls of the “favelas.” His images attempt to capture the human dignity of favela dwellers – those who have no choice but to live in the organized chaos that is life in these marginalized urban neighborhoods. Rio de Janeiro’s favelas are home to 1 million people, and an estimated 1 billion live in similar squatter towns worldwide.

The evening’s public discussions will include a talk by Lobo, a Fulbright scholar and internationally known artist, followed by “Negotiating the Gap,” a panel discussion addressing issues of transitional housing and homelessness in Charlotte.

In conjunction with Lobo’s exhibit, UNC Charlotte architecture students partnered with the Urban Ministry Center (UMC) ArtWorks 945 program to create dream homes for the homeless. The center is a partnership of uptown congregations and businesses formed in 1994 to address the needs of the poor and homeless in Charlotte. The ArtWorks 945 program is built on the belief that art has a transformative power. The UNC Charlotte School of Architecture’s course, “Dilemmas in Modern City Planning,” provided an opportunity for students and UMC clients to collaborate in teams of two. The homes were inspired by conversations between UMC clients and the students, and designed to fit within a 10-foot-by-10-foot footprint, lacking running water or electricity. Student models of the homes, built to their client’s specifications, can be seen in the Center City Building’s front window as part of the favelas exhibit.

The exhibit runs through May.

“Negotiating the Gap” panelists will be:

  • David Walters, panel leader, architect and town planner, and chair of the Master of Urban Design Program
  • Pedro Lobo, exhibiting artist and documenter
  • M. Lori Thomas, Ph.D., MSW, MDiv, Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar, assistant professor of social work, UNC Charlotte
  • Dale Mullennix, Executive Director, Urban Ministry Center

The Favelas: Architecture of Survival exhibit was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art of the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston and curated by Mark Long, professor of political science at the College of Charleston.