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Rail Trail Lights, presented by U.S. Bank

Discover Magic Around Every Corner.

Presented by U.S. Bank, Rail Trail Lights is back in 2024 from February 2-18! The Rail Trail will celebrate local art with never-before-seen interactive light installations. Attendees can stroll down the Rail Trail enjoying one-of-a-kind art, with opportunities to take the perfect photo, grab a bite to eat, explore the South End neighborhood, and do it all again the next day.

Learn more about the I Heart Rail Trail initiative.

Learn about more ways to explore the Rail Trail

Getting to South End

There are lots of ways to get to South End, learn how:

Not Sure Where to Start? 

Grab Some Grub

Hungry while at Rail Trail Lights? See what bites & brews are within walking distance of Rail Trail Lights.

Make the Most of Rail Trail Lights

Craft your adventure with the help of these Rail Trail guides:

Foodie's Guide to rail trail lights

Parent's guide to rail trail lights

date night guide to rail trail lights

Meet the Rail Trail Lights artists:

Up-Next by Oliver Lewis

About the artist

Oliver Lewis is a visual artist educated in mathematics, robotics, and chemical engineering. His diverse skillset and experience enable him to create visually striking installations that engage the public in the principles of science and mathematics. He has worked with several organizations, including the McColl Center for Visual Art, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Charlotte Center City Partners, Blumenthal Performing Arts, the City of Raleigh, and the Knight Foundation.

About the art

Up-Next is an interactive sculpture that resembles vintage TV sets from the 1980’s. This captivating installation boasts ten massive kaleidoscopes that generate mesmerizing light patterns. Visitors can easily interact with Up-Next. 

Find Up-Next at Atherton Plaza (2102 South Blvd.) 

Oyster Corner by HNin Nie

About the artist

HNin Nie is a multidisciplinary artist based in Charlotte. Her art draws inspiration from illustration, and blends animation and text to aid in her visual storytelling. In her creative exploration, Nie embraces the magical and the mundane by anthropomorphizing her subjects. Her art invites you to rediscover the enchantment in everyday life and to nurture empathy for both the animate and the inanimate.

About the art

Created in collaboration with Callender Baker, Oyster Corner is inspired by the beauty of nature, particularly the elegance of oyster mushrooms. The vision is to bring a touch of nature to the heart of the city through a monochromatic design featuring a pink tree. The oyster mushrooms will come to life through a play of lights, transitioning from soft pink to warm yellow and a radiant white glow. 

The main tree of Oyster Corner is standing 8 feet tall, adorned with these dazzling mushrooms that cast their light. Adjacent to the tree is a mini pink tree stump that serves as the interactive heart of the installation. Here, visitors can pause for public seating, or post with a perfect backdrop for photos. The stump, measuring at least 20 inches in both width and height, provides ample seating space for all. 

Find Oyster Corner at Kingston Connection (108 E. Kingston Ave.) 

Fractal Energy by Anna G. Dean

About the artist

Anna G. Dean is an interdisciplinary artist, working in sculpture, installation, video, and mixed media. She completed her MFA at Winthrop University, where she currently teaches and coordinates the CreatorSpace technology lab. Dean’s work has been exhibited at the Mint Museum, the McColl Center, the Brooklyn Collective, Redux Gallery, and at Miami Art Week. She was recently awarded the 2024 Individual Artist Fellowship through the South Carolina Arts Commission. 

About the art

This sculpture is based on the famous visual representation of a fractal pattern. Fractal Energy takes inspiration from two sources: The Infinity Room (made popular by Japanese contemporary artist, Yayoi Kusama), and the Sierpinski Triangle. It is created using equilateral triangles that can be mathematically reduced so that it can be infinitely scalable.  

In this sculpture, light is the primary medium because light will form and illuminate all of the axes in the triangles. These will then illuminate the mirrors, and the light will appear to go on and on to infinity, as the scale shifts in each reflection.  

This sculpture is very interactive because not only does the Sierpinski triangle shift with the viewer’s perspective, to create varying complexity as people walk around the structure, but their reflection will also become a part of the work, and they themselves will appear to go on and on for infinity. 

Find Fractal Energy at Flower Child (1537 Camden Rd.)

Leave the Light On by J. Stacy Utley

About the artist

J. Stacy Utley is a critically acclaimed artist whose work is grounded in the fundamental belief that public art shouldincite dialogue, evoke an emotion, and tell a narrative. The narrative should reflect its cultural landscape and be curated with thoughtful design. Utleyworks in 2D and 3D mediums and addresses complex narratives found within the African American diaspora. Born in Suffolk, England and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Utley now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina where he is a practicing artist, lecturer, and educator. 

About the art

Inspired by his recent series of paintings, In Transition, and in collaboration with artists Dani Delrio and Karl Hoffman, Utley's installation titled Leave the Light Onaddresses the impact of gentrification in communities and urban spaces, and the resulting effects on various demographics. Using a simple shape that represents a house, the work represents the homes and lives that have been affected by redevelopment. TheLED lights, while perceived as colorful, are coded. In the 1950s and 60s, redlining maps used the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue as indicator markings to distinguish desired areas from those in decline due to a lack of resources. 

Find Leave the Light On at The Pavilion, across from Futo Buta (222 E Bland St.)

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Rail Trail all year long, learn how.