Mercer is home to a variety of student artists who express themselves through various mediums and genres and create unique bodies of work influenced by the college experience. One such artist who has been making waves on campus is Avery Lario, a senior art major who is also completing the pre-nursing track.
To Lario, art is an essential form of expression, and she loves to create visual pieces that have meaning not only to her, but inspire feelings and hold significance for those who view them. It is more than a medium for her; it is also a way of thinking about and commenting on the world and life itself.
“Art is one of the few things that you can do no matter where you are in your relationship to it, whether you’ve never picked up a pencil before, or if you’ve been drawing your whole life,” Lario said. “It reminds us that there is more to life than what you have to get done. It forces you to live in the moment.”
Beginning in high school, Lario explained that her senior art portfolio was on psychosomatics and the tie between the mind and the body. Where that work was more guided by realism, her current work focuses more on abstractionism and breaking the human body down into more non-concrete representations of shapes, colors and movement.
Her favorite piece from her current body of work, called “February 17th,” clearly evokes these themes and represents her mastery of abstract work. She combined different artistic elements she was learning in class — including marker, acrylic and crayon — to create a piece that communicated her message.
Some of Lario’s influences include Jean-Michel Basquiat, who is famous for his neo-expressionist paintings, a genre that Lario is passionate about, as is evident in her work. Her abstract use of color to depict the body and asymmetrical shapes are classic characteristics of mid-1980s neo-expressionist ideals.
She also loves “aggressive-looking” ‘80s abstract art, along with the work of Mark Rothko, who is known for his color field paintings featuring irregularly shaped rectangle blocks of color.
Next spring, Lario will present her senior exhibition, so she will be working on pieces over the course of this year to display.
Lario said she thinks that her final exhibition will be about how difficult it has been for her to maintain her interest in both anatomy and art.
“I’m planning on continuing this line of thinking of abstract work,” said Lario. “It’s almost like rage art — which communicates strong and specific emotions and narratives — but the pieces aren’t necessarily trying to have an extensive dialogue with the viewer; they’re there to exist and express what I’m thinking and feeling and how I want to visualize that.”
For those interested in viewing Lario’s art, the senior art exhibition will open at the downtown McEachern Art Center on Bear Day in spring 2022. Be on the lookout for information about the show in the coming months.
The senior show is free and open to all, and Lario said it will be a good experience for not only Mercer art students, but also for those who are not necessarily in the art world or familiar with Mercer artists.
Lario said it is exciting for people to view not only her work, but her artistic peers’ as well because their entire majors have culminated in the exhibition, which is essentially their final research project.
Post-graduation, Lario intends to continue down the nursing track, with plans to become a full-time nurse. She will keep creating art and developing a body of work that could possibly lead her to her master’s degree in art.
For Lario, art is something that she will always practice, no matter what.
“(I) was an artist before I came to art school,” she said. “I will be an artist after. Even if I’m not actively in the field or in class, I’m still going to be creating and working.”
While she doesn’t have any active plans to make art her career after graduation, it will still be a large part of her life. Her work could lead to interactions with galleries, collectors or opportunities for exhibitions — the possibilities are endless.
“It’s kind of open-ended, but I like it that way,” Lario said. “I never wanted it to be a career because I feel like that can be really stifling and that puts the need for monetary value on artwork where it’s not always needed.
“Art doesn’t need to have inherent value. There doesn’t need to be a price tag on it for it to be successful. It can be cathartic. It can be because you want to feel something. It can evoke emotions and reject the idea that everything has to fit in these perfect lines and boxes.”
It is clear that expression and fluidity are key elements of art for Lario, and these themes shine through in her artwork. When viewing her pieces, the bright colors and asymmetrical shapes in conjunction with physical body parts presents a visually stunning experience that makes it hard to look away.