The Artistic Intersection of Art and Intersections in Chattanooga

By Mary Kate Sheppard, Staff Writer—

With just a look around while stopped at one of many downtown intersections, any visitor would be able to tell that Chattanooga is an artsy city.

Murals and sculptures adorn the streets, and art exhibitions are abundant. But one way that the city has further differentiated itself, and cemented its artsy reputation, is with its unique and colorful traffic signal cabinets that occupy nearly every major intersection

Scattered around the city and surrounding regions are colorful vinyl-wrapped traffic boxes. Each box’s graphic was personally designed by a local artist and printed on vinyl wrap before being glued to the exterior.  

The Art Spark project is the organization that brought this idea to Chattanooga. 

“We’d seen it done in other places and cities and knew we had to bring it to Chattanooga,” Art Spark representative Amy Donahue said.

In 2017, River City along with EPB were able to sponsor nearly 30 local professional artists as well as ten high school students who were able to have their artwork transformed into something that has become iconic to Chattanooga.  

“It’s a way for us to showcase local artists who call Chattanooga home by creating more opportunities for artists and businesses with the limited space we have,” Donahue said.

She explained that, by colorfully wrapping the typical eyesores, they were able to  bring a sense of uniqueness and art to the Chattanooga community. 

“It’s something different on every corner.” Donahue said, “It brightens up the city in an interactive and exciting way.” 

The traffic boxes can be found all over the city. There is even a scavenger hunt on the River City website that challenges people to find them all. 

As far as expenses go, the boxes cost roughly $1,650 to produce —$1,000 for the artist and $650 to produce the vinyl. 

“We took our investments in the arts and brought them to a new place,” Donahue said. “We took something ugly, but still essential, and created a canvas.”

As of now, River City and EPB are trying to switch the model so that businesses can promote and sponsor artists, and allow more boxes to be beautified.

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