Alex Mercedes Emphasizes Arts

“Mercedes Emphasizes Arts in Holly Springs” – a Slice of Life article (text as printed in The South Reporter on March 6, 2014) A performing artist inspired by every facet of life, Alex Mercedes teaches piano, gives lectures, and leads workshops that connect the mind and body. With a dream to introduce art to a small town, Mercedes left San Francisco in the summer of 2012 to come to Holly Springs and do exactly that. Her plan was to start an artist residency called the “Artist Retreat and Conference Center”, which would present the community with original works of art, inspired by the South. The residency would have been open to painters, writers, musicians, and performers. While the timing hasn’t been right for Holly Springs to host such a retreat, Mercedes’ dream to bring the arts to our town succeeds in a few unexpected ways. She shares her passion for music by teaching private piano lessons, playing piano at Grace Lutheran Church on Sundays, and by taking an active role in programs such as Behind the Big House. “It’s (creating art) about being open and inquisitive, and playful,” she says. Additionally, Mercedes offers workshops (or “playshops”, as she prefers to […]

Alisea McLeod, Slice of Life

“McLeod – Teacher, Researcher, Writer” – a Slice of Life article (text as printed in The South Reporter on March 6, 2014) Dr. Alisea McLeod, Professor of English and Humanities at Rust College, was recently appointed to be Rust’s new Interim Chair of Humanities. As part of the job, she’ll oversee multiple courses including Religion, English, Foreign Languages, Speech, Communications, and Mass Communications, as well as a tv and radio station. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like an overwhelming amount of work, but McLeod is delighted with the opportunity. There’s so much potential in this job to teach, and she’s excited to see students discover their life’s work. After all, it was during the pursuit of higher education that she found hers. And she’s been researching, and writing about it ever since. Grounded in history and genealogy, the subject of McLeod’s work was inspired by the personal experiences she had growing up. Her point of interest: the emancipation and migration of African-American families from the South. “Like many families, my family didn’t talk about the past very much. My father tried to, but I think at the time he was raising us, people expected you to have a new […]

Shannon McNally Yoga & Music

“McNally Balances Yoga, Music” – a Slice of Life article (text as printed in The South Reporter on March 6, 2014) The word “Namaste” has a new musical ring to it thanks to one Holly Springs resident. In between album tours, singer-songwriter Shannon McNally brings one of the most popular forms of exercise, yoga, to the gyms of Holly Springs through scheduled classes and private yoga sessions. In her classes, McNally stresses the importance of deep breathing for improved focus, strength, and balance. She asks students what they would like to improve, and then tailors each workout based on their requests. The workout is also adapted to meet the needs of students with physical difficulties, and so, is very inclusive. It all coincides with McNally’s mantra: yoga is for everyone, regardless of where you start. Students are encouraged to focus only on their own practice, and not to make comparisons with one another. The class results in a welcoming, and relaxing experience. “It’s like music,” she says. “You don’t know who needs it.” McNally credits her own yoga practice for teaching her to slow down, and focus. In this way, yoga has enriched the other creative aspects of her life, […]