An Art-Bus in Residence: MLAB @ the McColl Center in Charlotte, NC

In late August 2016, after months of being on the road, MLAB rumbled into its next stop in Charlotte, NC, where it would be for the next three months as a key part of Marion Wilson’s residency at the McColl Center for Arts and Innovation ( The McColl center is a contemporary arts space housed in a renovated gothic-revival church building in uptown Charlotte; there are six artist studios in the Center occupied almost year-round by a rotating group of artists-in-residence.

All artists-in-residence partner up with a local organization and engage their community partners in the process of making or sharing art. MLAB, dubbed the “art-bus-in-residence,” was at the front and center of Marion’s community engagement. With its seating space, art materials, and living moss inside the bus, MLAB was the perfect home for a series of art and botany workshops held at the Urban Ministries, a resource center for people experiencing homelessness just a few blocks away from the McColl Center. The workshops began with participants partnering up for a contour drawing warm-up, where each person makes a sketch of their partner without looking down at the paper or lifting up their pencil. Then, the group moved on to looking up close at plant materials and sketching them, using plants found in the Urban Ministries’ own garden. Below, some pictures of a workshop held in November at the Urban Ministries:

During community art events and public gallery showings at the McColl Center, Wilson parked MLAB in front of the McColl Center – on uptown Charlotte’s main street –  and invited people in to take a closer look at moss specimens and other natural curiosities: tomato skins, mushroom gills, or anything else that could be prepared on a slide. Here are some pictures, below, of the  Family Art-Making day (October 8, 2016):


As the “environmental artist-in-residence,” Wilson put living things at the center of her work during her residency. Wilson’s work blended native mediums of the South, especially red clay, with found objects, plants, maps and collages:

More information about Wilson’s residency, from the McColl center website:

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