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Makayla Binter graduates to Elder Gallery artist
Davidson College alumnus builds upon works
Published Friday, April 2, 2021 8:30 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Makayla Binter, creator of “Illusionary Gravity,” has been named gallery artist at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Makayla Binter is about to find out what it is like to be a gallery artist.

Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art this week announced Binter, who is less than a year removed from graduating from Davidson College, where she studied art and biology, as their latest gallery artist.

“You never know what it is like to be a gallery artist until you do it,” Binter said.

The former collegiate track and field athlete hit the ground running after graduation, but had already laid the foundation. Binter launched the Mural Panel Project at the Levine Museum of the New South, which she modeled after her work at Davidson as a response to anti-Semitic tweets by two students who supported the Ku Klux Klan.

She utilized art to encourage conversation around topics impacting the Davidson community, such as racism, colorism, homophobia and classism. Then she installed the same four stand-alone panels at the Levine Museum to document Charlotte’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

If that was your first exposure to Binter, it probably wasn’t the last. From the West End mural on Beatties Ford Road to being featured in Carla Aaron-Lopez’s exhibit “LOCAL/STREET” at the Mint Museum’s Randolph location and “Lift Every Voice” at the Harvey B. Gantt Center and creating a mentoring program at West Charlotte High School as an Emerging City Champion to creating commissioned artwork for presidential contender Joe Biden’s Black economic summit at Camp North End, she is always up to something.

“Makayla was actually put on my radar while she was still at Davidson,” Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art owner Sonya Pfeiffer said. “[Arts advocate] Jessica Moss connected me with a man named Brandon Zeigler. Jessica wanted him to get plugged in with folks who were showing art work from those who have been purposefully left out of the mainstream. She said, ‘talk with Sonya about the artists she is representing.’

“I had a great conversation with Brandon and he said, ‘I just collected some work from this young artist. You should check out Makayla Binter.’ He sent me a link to what was her senior project. I looked at this work, and I thought, ‘oh my gosh.’ Part of me expected that I was going to find somebody older than she was. I thought maybe she was a nontraditional student.”

Binter was connected with Pfeiffer by fellow Country Day teacher and fellow Elder Gallery artist J. Stacy Utley, who thought Binter and Pfeiffer should connect as the Pfeiffers are a Country Day family. It turned out to be a perfect fit.

“I remember having conversations with my professors at Davidson and talking about their different gallery experiences,” Binter said. “I had not even, at that point, considered being a gallery artist. We started having different conversations with Sonya, and not even ‘do you want to sign with Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art,’ but just my goals as an artist, what I want to do, what I am passionate about.”

Binter has vast range. From painting and drawing to collage work and photography to design and large-scale murals, she creates with ease, yet her purpose expands beyond creating. She serves as a conduit between community and art, making it accessible for all.

“When I look at Makayla’s work, the diversity of her work alone defies the notion of exclusivity in art and that only some people don’t belong,” Pfeiffer said. “She can do an incredible mural. She can create a great pair of Converse shoes or she can put together a digital collage that could grace the halls of any museum focused on photography. That was impressive to me, and then when you speak with her about what she wants to do and her purpose, it is always more than just creating. Even as we have talked about as we talk about the work she is going to bring into the gallery, we talk about other things we could do as it relates to the community.”

Binter’s exhibit at Elder Gallery is scheduled for September. “Who Are Your People” will include photography, photo-collage and painting. It will be a performance piece and ultimately space curation. The intention is to use collage to explore the many faces people show the world.


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