While long-time Charlotteans still think of McColl Center for Visual Art as the old burnt-out church, and others know it mostly as a place to see an exhibition or drop off the kids for summer art classes, the soul of the Center is its artist residencies.
A typical artists-in-residence program is like a retreat, offering artists a quiet place to work without distraction. But the McColl is different its a place artists come to for intense public engagement. While at work in their studios, artist-in-residence are encouraged to keep their doors open and welcome a sometimes wild array of visitors. And now two artists-in-residence at the Center have upcoming projects that will give non-artists a chance to flex their creative muscle:
Somali-born, Toronto-based photographer Abdi Osman, whose work is deeply influenced by his experiences as a black, Muslim, gay male, is inviting the Charlotte LGBT community to take part in the Queer Reclamation of the Queen City Community Outreach Project. Using disposable cameras, participants are photographing local people, places and icons they feel deserve recognition. Osman will use these images as the basis for a commemorative, limited-edition print, which he will then make available to the community.
With help from a Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund grant, over 80 cameras were purchased for this project. So far Osman has distributed more than half of them and will give out additional cameras at Charlotte Black Gay Pride Community Leadership Honors on Feb. 20. If youd like to participate, contact McColl Center for Visual Art or the Lesbian & Gay Community Center to make arrangements to pick up your camera. All cameras must be turned in by Feb. 28. On March 19, 6 pm.-10 p.m., Osman will unveil his commemorative print at a free, public celebration presented by the Center, Take Over Charlotte and the LGCC.
When Osman started visiting the LGCC, with which he has been working closely since his arrival in Charlotte, he noticed that it served an overwhelmingly white population. In aggressively seeking out people of color, older people and others, he is not only identifying a diverse group for his outreach project, but also hopes to deepen their ties to the LGCC.
Of course, in a successful outreach both the artist and the community benefit. In his studio, Osman is working on a series of portraits, and in keeping with his desire to represent a diverse community, hes especially interested in finding black LGBT subjects. If youre interested, contact him through the Center.
Artist-in-residence Shaun El C. Leonardo, of Queens, N.Y., is a mixed media and performance artist whose work is a complex mixture of childhood memories, masculine stereotypes and pop-culture references. Hell present a free performance workshop at the Center on March 6, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. No experience is required, just a commitment to art as a means of communication. Through an organic process based on movement-oriented exercises that he has devised, Leonardos goal is to help participants build the courage and comfort to project themselves as if they were performers.
For more info on the Queer Reclamation Project or workshop registration, contact Devlin McNeil, firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-332-5535, ext. 13.