SouthEnd ARTS: Melissa Herriott, LaDara McKinnon, Elijah Kell and Mary Zio

SouthEnd ARTS is a nonprofit committed to creating equity exhibition space for artists, building cultural bridges, and promoting social justice. Local artists, donors, collectors and art enthusiasts who invest in SouthEnd ARTS are contributing to the vibrancy of Charlotte’s cultural community and a commitment to making the arts accessible to all.

This month’s ARTS Matter exhibition showcases the works of four SouthEnd ARTS alumni who represent the organization’s mission of providing equity opportunity to a cross-section of our city’s artistic community: Melissa Herriott, LaDara McKinnon, Elijah Kell and Mary Zio.

These talented artists continue to achieve success, in turn giving back to the SouthEnd ARTS mission and committing their time and resources to support fellow artists. We are proud to feature their works and honor their collective commitment to exemplify why ARTS Matter.

As SouthEnd ARTS grows its reach, we continue to engage all in our community to take part in a transforming narrative. Together, we can ensure that meaningful opportunities exist for local artists and create culturally enriched spaces for community members.

Artist statements:

Melissa Herriott – I took a 20-year hiatus from painting. Now that I am back I paint what brings me joy; what I want to surround myself with. I create art that I would want to decorate my home and office with. I love bright colors, abstract shapes, and I use gold any (and every) chance I get. While I appreciate realism in art, I gravitate towards the abstract. My hope is to make you FEEL something. Support of the arts is a nudge from the universe that we are on the right track. Proof that art speaks to places inside of us that connect us all without words

LaDara McKinnon – I am a multimedia artist focusing in painting and ceramics. I am interested in creating work that alters the emotional stability and attention span of the viewer. My paintings are created with multi-layers of heavy body acrylic paint, house paint and modeling paste. My practice tends to start with gesture brush strokes and controlled and uncontrolled methods of mark-making created with brushes, palette knives and unconventional tools to create texture, tones, and depth.

My current body of work is influenced by freedom. I am intrigued by the process of creating texture and the movement of creating layers and subtraction of past layers freely.

Elijah Kell – As a dyslexic, imagery plays a huge role in my life; it’s why art is my best form of expression. Working with glass fascinates and challenges me. It is a fusion of concept, color and form. There are many steps in my process and glass can be an unpredictable medium, yet that’s what keeps me intrigued. I have learned to anticipate the irregularities of melting glass and appreciate the shifts that occur as a natural part of that process. It’s like painting a picture that I then activate and bring to life in shape and form. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t, but it’s the challenge of the process that I love most.

Mary Zio – I would describe myself as an abstract expressionist. I choose to work in a style unbound by the rules of realism. Working in the realm of abstraction, means freedom. Freedom of color, form, movement, emotion and the interpretation of subject matter in a way that expresses that particular moment of time. Abstract art requires the viewer to engage with an artwork by different means. The meaning of an abstract work of art changes with each viewer, since each viewer brings their own unique perspective.

Over the last few years, acrylic painting has become my preferred art medium. Layering colors, playing with different brush strokes and application techniques, textures, and under paintings, keeps the process interesting and full of surprises, which often leads to new techniques and compositions ideas.

The Artisan Palate