From The Biscuit, a publication of Charlotte Is Creative, by Tim Miner (used with permission)
“[When I was growing up], I visited [McColl Center] a few times with the Studio 345 program, and I always wanted to work here. So this is a dream come true.”
– Emily Núñez
The intimate community of creatives working together in the new artist studios at McColl Center are about to get a new neighbor — Charlotte native and visual artist, Emily Núñez.
A Charlotte native, Núñez recently earned a BFA from Appalachian State University. While she’s excited to begin her career in Charlotte, Núñez — like many working artists here — needs space to create.
“I have recently moved back to Charlotte … and do not have the necessary space to continue to create large bodies of work as I could in college,” she said. “I am unable to create art because of the lack of space in my home.”
The Importance of Space
According to a recent meeting of local arts leaders conducted by EY wavespace, affordable, accessible workspace is a critical need for local creatives. Jonell Logan, McColl Center’s VP, Creative Director, agrees.
“So many artists haven’t been able to complete work that is important to their vision as a result of the pandemic. Being able to offer space and resources that will help them achieve this work, and ultimately grow their practice, means we’re living up to our mission.”
The need for creative workspace is why McColl Center launched the Artist Studio program with eight private rental studios for local artists earlier this year. In tandem with the launch of their new studios for year-long leases, McColl Center teamed up with Charlotte Is Creative in June to tie one of the studios to a space-based extension of the HUG (Helpful Unfettered Gift) Micro-Grant program.
Through this partnership, local creatives can apply for a four-month micro-residency in a third-floor studio space. During this time, the creative selected enjoys 24/7 access to their own studio at no cost, with the benefit of a surrounding creative community and access to communal labs for printmaking, 3-D printing and laser cutting, digital media, ceramics, woodworking and sculpture fabrication.
Nunez is the second artist selected for this HUG. The first, Eboné M. Lockett, completes her micro-residency Oct. 1. During her tenure, she created a multi-disciplinary campaign, called Through Jaundiced Eyes, to “amplify the stories of individuals impacted by this condition.” Read more about her work here.
Núñez sees space as an important next step in her development as a professional creative in Charlotte.
“It is super important for me to have space and an artistic community because it keeps me motivated to create and learn from those around me,” she said. “I am always inspired by others in my community and family when it comes to art-making. My art always revolves around human connection.”
Making Her Heritage Come Alive
Núñez began her creative journey at a young age. “My grandmother is an artist as well,” she said. “I have always wanted to be like her and see where art can take me.”
“In high school, I went to a program called Studio 345 where I met amazing teaching artists who gave me the motivation to go to college and pursue an artistic career.”[NOTE: Studio 345 is a program established in 2017 by the Arts & Science Council. It is now managed by Arts Plus.]
The connection to her grandmother and her Dominican heritage is the foundation of the work Núñez is planning for her time at McColl Center: “The body of work will consist of portraits, collages as well as abstract art depicting elements of the culture that I grew up in.” .
We will share Núñez’s progress in The Biscuit during her micro-residency, but she teased it for us. It will combine visual art with accompanying audio compositions that range from kitchen sounds to family members conversing and even sounds of instruments typically heard in traditional Dominican music.
“In the four months, I will use the studio to create large paintings and drawings,” Núñez said. “I hope to create a body of work that touches on the unique and vibrant nature of the Dominican culture and its people.”