Arts & Culture

Elizabeth Palmisano Tapped for Major Light Rail Arts Installation

#NoDaCloudWall will express the wishes of a community

Elizabeth Palmisano, wearing overalls and a yellow top, turns toward the camera smiling while in the background unfocused someone in an apron can be seen working on an outdoor mural.
Elizabeth Palmisano leads an Amplify! workshop at We Rock Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of Galactic Headquarters)

This summer, Blue Line riders can expect to see the #NoDaCloudWall, a cloudscape installation floating alongside the 36th Street Station. Award-winning artist Elizabeth Palmisano has been commissioned by Grubb Properties in this undertaking — the first of its kind in the city.

The over 23,000-square-foot, multi-dimensional, sculptural mural will transform the parking deck and surrounding buildings on Grubb Properties’ new Link Apartments NODA 36th. By summer’s end, light rail riders coming into the neighborhood will be greeted by Palmisano’s cloudscapes. 

Located on the former site of Herrin Bros. Coal & Ice on East 36th St. just north of the Blue Line, the 534-unit Link Apartments complex will include one commercial and two residential buildings, along with a 566-car parking garage.

Getting out in the neighborhood

Palmisano is gathering handwritten wishes to inscribe on the back of the fabricated metal clouds.

“In a wave of Charlotte development, developers who invest in the communities in which they build stand out,” Palmisano said in a release. “Inviting the communities to include their voices in the evolution honors them as neighborhoods develop and change.”

Once the installation is finished, visitors will be able to interact with the art and glimpse their hidden wishes. 

Palmisano began gathering residents’ wishes at ArtWalks CLT in NoDa on March 26 and will continue to hold what she’s calling Wish Gathering events over a six-week period, including one scheduled for Thursday, April 13 from 5-7 p.m. at Summit Coffee in NoDa

The artist told Queen City Nerve that the first few events have gone beautifully … once she can get people’s attention long enough to convince them she’s not selling anything. 

“I’ve been blown away by how important this project is to folks,” she said. “One woman started crying as I finished explaining what I was doing and invited her to participate. People are just so thirsty for the question ‘What do you wish for?’ and I continue to be surprised by how honest and authentic people answer that question for a complete stranger.”

Elizabeth Palmisano sits at a desk outdoors with a yellow apron on painting something.
Elizabeth Palmisano works at Camp North End during her Immersive Van Gogh residency. (Photo courtesy of Galactic Headquarters)

Wishes received by Palmisano thus far have ranged from the serious, including family members’ addictions or dire living situations; to the sweet, such as young children wishing to become a princess when they grow up or learn to do a handstand.

“All of these wishes matter,” she said. “With all the transformations that NoDa has seen over the years, it appears to be more important than ever that we include the voices of real, everyday people who love NoDa as part of the continuing evolution.” 

She noted that she’s seen more enthusiasm from folks when she goes out in the community compared to asking for wishes online, which has convinced her to begin holding daily outreach sessions — sometimes twice a day. 

“Although this makes wish collection a little more challenging, it also provides me the opportunity to connect to people one-on-one and share additional conversation,” she said. “I love connecting with people and hearing their stories and any information they want to share with me in person. I love hearing the story surrounding the little sentences that they share on their slip of paper.” 

Residents can also place their wishes in collection boxes at Free Range Brewing or in the Johnston YMCA lobby, or submit them online.

Meet the artist

Elizabeth Palmisano is an award-winning mixed-media installation and fiber artist living and working in Charlotte. Her work has been exhibited at galleries and museums such as The Mint Museum, The McColl Center, and Bliss Gallery, and she was voted Best Visual Artist in Queen City Nerve’s 2020 and 2022 Best in the Nest awards

Elizabeth Palmisano stands on an elevated cherry picker and paints the tall part of a wall.
Elizabeth Palmisano works on one of her past Charlotte projects. (Photo courtesy of Galactic Headquarters)

As a boundary-pushing fiber artist, Palmisano combines abstract painted surfaces with textiles and collage, creating rich, multi-layered compositions. Experimentation, exploration, and play are key to her creative process. 

Palmisano, a leading team member with We Rock Charlotte located in Optimist Park, has long championed the arts as both a vehicle for self-exploration and a way of supporting her community. Her work in We Rock’s year-round workshop Amplify! made her an expert at getting children, teens and even adults to let loose creatively. 

Learn more: We Rock Charlotte Cultivates Inclusive Expression for Trans Youth

The artist says that each piece she works on serves as a visual prayer, an affirmation, or an intention. Palmisano’s “Wishes and Whispers” was on display during the 2022 Charlotte International Arts Festival, inviting the public to engage with art in a playful way and reveal the wishes of Charlotteans hidden within. 

The installation is a physical manifestation of hopes and dreams collected during Palmisano’s residency as a Blumenthal Fellow at Immersive Van Gogh Charlotte in 2021, she said. 

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