New public art installation celebrates Earth Day, on display until mid-May

March 11, 2024

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A new temporary piece of public art will be installed in Downtown Chapel Hill on Friday, March 15 at the 140 West Franklin Plaza. Looking ahead to Earth Day on April 22, the piece by local artist Nyssa Collins will focus on environmental sustainability. Known as “Rubbish the Raccoon,” the work will resemble said animal with skin and fur made from recycled materials, such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Many items were sourced from Haw River Assembly’s trash traps.

Collins will be constructing the raccoon’s skeleton frame, and those passing by will have the opportunity to help assemble parts of the animal’s fur – garland made of plastic bottles. Haw River Assembly will also be onsite from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., offering informational materials about pollution, the impact of litter, and our role in protecting the environment.

Nyssa Collins is a painter, sculptor, puppeteer, and musician. Earth Day is close to her heart, as the date also marks Collins’ birthday. She has a love for nature and grew up playing in the forests and creeks of Burlington, NC that feed into the Haw River.

“This sculpture is being created to bring focus on the negative externalities of single use plastic on our environment and local wildlife,” says Collins. “Only two percent of plastic waste is effectively recycled. Even when plastic is diligently placed in the correct recycling bin, it breaks down in recycling and mostly is downcycled or simply rerouted to waste streams.”

Those who cannot make it to the art installation process will still be able to view the piece until mid-May, when exhibition of the piece will end at 140 West Plaza.

To learn more about Collins and her work, visit her website.

For more about Community Arts & Culture and public art around Town, visit and follow along on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Community Arts & Culture is a division of the Town of Chapel Hill with a mission to inspire creativity and celebrate community for a better Chapel Hill.