Arts & Culture

BOOM Charlotte Set to Host Seventh Annual Fringe Arts Festival

10 artists to check out in 2024

Umayal Annamalai draws on the ground with chalk
Local artist Umayal Annamalai or Umayal Art. (Photo by Oxana Erokhina)

What started as a small arts festival in the heart of Plaza Midwood has in eight years bloomed — or boomed, one might say — into a year-round art initiative that brings art to those who lack access to Charlotte’s larger art scene. 

This weekend marks the seventh annual celebration of that initiative, as the three-day, artist-led performing and visual arts festival BOOM Charlotte is set to take place at Camp North End from April 26-28. 

Growing from what amounted to a block party in 2016, the annual BOOM Charlotte festival has become one of the most diverse multidisciplinary creative gatherings in Charlotte, a unique watering hole for Charlotte’s creative ecosystem featuring mediums ranging from chalk art to classical music. 

Following its mission to bridge traditional divides between social classes, races, and nationalities through transformational art, BOOM 2024 will create an immersive arts atmosphere showcasing contemporary and experimental works created on the fringes of pop culture. 

As in years past, BOOM 2024 will consist of two distinct parts — BOOM Fringe and BOOM Intersection — with guests encouraged to move between the two spaces throughout the weekend, experiencing some of Charlotte’s most innovative artists.

BOOM Fringe features 10 edgy, experimental art performances spread across a number of small, intimate locations. These are ticketed performances that take place three times each over the weekend. 

BOOM Intersection, on the other hand, serves as the festival’s epicenter, featuring a broad range of art performed on a central stage along with interactive installations and activities, cultivating a space for artists, audiences and community members to come together and enjoy live art for free. 

BOOM Fringe

The lineup of artists performing at BOOM Fringe covers a variety of mediums including spoken word, performance art, comedy shows, dance performances, visual art and a variety of live musical performances. Here are five to check out at BOOM 2024.  

Charlotte-based comedienne and artist Christine McLennan plans to perform her comedy show, How to be Okay! A Simple 254 Step Plan, which it is said “will help you win big, achieve your wildest dreams, get the perfect body, find a lover, make a million bajillion dollars and more,” though more than likely the only guarantee is that you will laugh … a lot. 

McLennan will perform at MacFly Fresh from 7-8 p.m. on April 26, 9-10 p.m. on April 27 and from 3-4 p.m. followed by a Talk Back on April 28. 

Members of SHAE Movement African Arts dance at Camp North End
SHAE Movement African Arts (Photo courtesy of BOOM Charlotte)

With a name that stands for Sharing the Heart of Africa with Everyone, SHAE Movement African Arts aims to celebrate West African dance, drum, song and energy. The company will perform Her Legacy, a journey through dance dedicated to the contributions of women in West African Diasporic dance and music. 

Each piece honors the female spirit, with certain dances honoring specific women like the late Mama Kadiatou Conte and Dr. Faith Troupe. SHAE Movement African Arts will perform at You vs. Yourself fitness facility in Camp North End on April 26 from 7-8 p.m., April 27 from 9-10 p.m. and April 28 from 5-6 p.m. 

Professional actress, musician and composer Gina Stewart, recently covered by Queen City Nerve for her work with Channeling Granny during Women’s History Month, will perform Crazy is Contagious, a cross-discipline performance described as “a humorous, tragic, original collaborative performance art piece that explores multi-dimensional aspects of personality and interpersonal familial relationships. 

Gina Stewart portrait
Gina Stewart (Photo by Rebecca Buchanan)

Told through the voices of different family members, this one-woman performance touches on taboo and often stigmatized issues like schizophrenia, child neglect, abuse, addiction and family secrets while taking a brave, honest and hilarious look at mental illness and family relationships. Stewart will perform at MacFly Fresh on April 27 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and again from 7-9 p.m. followed by a Talk Back, with her final performance landing on April 28 from 7-8 p.m. 

Sinergismo, a performance art ensemble of professional dancers, visual artists, poets and musicians, will perform Yes, We Have No Bananas, a spoof on the takeover of artificial intelligence. Blending humor and horror, Yes, We Have No Bananas is a performance about mannequins sent to rule over the world. Sinergismo will perform at You vs. Yourself on April 26 from 9-10 p.m., April 27 from 5-6 p.m. followed by a Talk Back, and on April 28 from 3-4 p.m. 

Sinergismo (Photo courtesy of BOOM Charlotte)

Saxophonist Dylan Ward will perform a collection of instrumental music for saxophones, electric guitars and electronics by composer Kenneth Michael Florence in Aeon Transfer. 

“The work is inspired by Sir Roger Penrose’s concept of Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, a theory that proposes a model of the universe in which the temporal extremities (the beginning and end states) of successive universes are identified, forming a potentially infinite chain of self-propagating space-time entities called aeons,” reads the BOOM website. 

Ward will perform at Dupp and Swatt on April 27 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. followed by a Talk Back, then twice more on April 28 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.

Tickets for individual BOOM Fringe performances are available for purchase in advance or try your luck at the door. Tickets cost $13 per performance. Guests can also purchase a weekend pass, which includes 5 events for $50. To see all 10 Fringe performances, guests can purchase an additional pass. 

BOOM Intersection

Melanotion is described as not just a platform but “a movement towards reclaiming the power of storytelling.” Located at the intersection of diversity, creativity and community engagement rooted in the belief that every story deserves to be told.

The group will host BOOM’s first inaugural art talk, The Art of Your Dwelling, where attendees can learn from the artists and creators who transform everyday spaces into realms of imagination and intention by weaving their essence into every aspect of life. 

Panelists include Olivia Chisolm, multidisciplinary designer of To Live In Color; SheKinah Williams, eco-stylist of The Kinah Kreative; and Camille Hugues, curator for The Frame Studios. The panel will take place at the Ford Building on April 27 from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Founded in 2018 as the “musical umbrella of Ryan Persaud,” Sweat Transfer embraces the mix of music and technology through multimedia performances. Sweat Transfer will perform Lossless, a multimedia musical performance consisting of experimental composers and electronic musicians coordinating soundscapes. 

All performances will have a screen of some sort that will be audio reactive or accompaniment for their musical content. Sweat Transfer will perform at the Ford Building Theatre on April 27 from 6-9 p.m.

Umayal Annamalai is a self-taught mixed-media artist, muralist, workshop facilitator and coach who has a profound passion for storytelling through her art. The artist uses her creativity to explore her journey towards self-discovery and to connect with her inner self and the world around her. 

Local artist Umayal Annamalai or Umayal Art. (Photo by Oxana Erokhina)

Annamalai will unveil Kolam – Sacred Ritual Art, a piece of floor art drawn at the threshold to serve as a reminder of the transient nature of life and as an act of gratitude for one more day of constancy and a somewhat stable routine for women in South India.

The piece is meant to remind us how interconnected we are with all beginnings and to show gratitude to Mother Nature. Guests can see Annamalai’s Kolam at the Boileryard on April 28 from noon to 3 p.m. 

Adrian Parrish is a nonbinary queer poet, comedian and storyteller known for their unique blend of humor, wordplay and engaging storytelling. Parrish seeks to build connections and share queer stories because they believe storytelling is the most important tool in understanding one another. 

Arian Parrish (Photo courtesy of BOOM Charlotte)

Parrish will perform Breaking the Binary, a cross-disciplinary piece of comedy, poetry and storytelling set to break down binary barriers in identity, love and relationships. Parrish will perform on The Boileryard’s Living Room Stage on April 28 from 1:45-2 p.m. 

Born from the creative minds of Sarah Hahn and Satya, Bloom Movement Artistry seeks to be a testament to the love of community and art. The studio is dedicated to fostering a passion for the movement arts through dance workshops, fire workshops, silks classes and more for all stages ranging from beginner to veteran. 

Bloom Movement Artistry will perform The Rewarding Search, an aerial circus performance narrating the journey of an individual seeking an elusive but undefined goal, at the Lego Garden on April 28 from 4-4:45 p.m.

All BOOM Intersection performances and events are free to attend.

Past articles on other Intersection artists:

Gamebreax Proves Their Music is More than Nerdcore (2019)

Behind the Ink Project Shares Stories of Body Art in Multiple Mediums (2021)

Phaze Gawd Launches For Artist by Artist to Highlight Local Talent (2021)

Jah Freedom Extols That Which Came Before on ‘Kahlo’ (2023)

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