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Governor’s Arts Awards Living Treasure Awards Black Crafted
ARTS & CRAFTS Arkansas Made Second Friday Art Nights
AUTHENTIC ARKANSAS CELEBRATES THE CREATIVITY OF ALL ARKANSANS. WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU ENJOY IT ALL. Arkansas Arts Council Arkansas Historic Preservation Program Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Arkansas State Archives
Delta Cultural Center Historic Arkansas Museum Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Old State House Museum
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Emily Victoria Smith
@theonemanbandit www.onemanband.gallery (501) 551-9330 @theonemanbandit
IMPROVE YOUR WRITING BOLSTER YOUR VOICE WITH A WORKSHOP AT DAIRY HOLLOW
THE WRITERS' COLONY AT DAIRY HOLLOW, 515 SPRING STREET, EUREKA SPRINGS, AR 72632
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WWW.ESSA-ART.ORG 479-253-5384 @EurekaSpringsSchoolOfTheArts
2021 UPCOMING READINGS January
Zachary Crow March
Na’Tosha De’Von All readings take place on Zoom. Follow us for more information. IG / @opwc_nwa + FB / ozarkwriters
800 North College Avenue Fayetteville, AR 72701 479.422.7170 Framing fine art, photography, momentos & more.
Support Your Local Bookstores It’s A Mystery BookStore On the Berryville square Located in Berryville, AR
Your gently-used bookstore featuring vintage, modern and classic reads! Find us on
1001 Wright Avenue, Ste. C Little Rock, AR 72206 501 372 5824 www.pyramid1988.com PyramidArtBooks@gmail.com Available in Hardcover, Large Print & Audio CD
Your source for Afrocentric literature in all genres. We can order any book in print! Independent Bookseller since 1988
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Letter from the publisher
How do we say goodbye to the worst year of our lifetimes? Unless you lived through the Great Depression or something. But there aren’t many left who did. And they probably don’t read our magazine. So let’s just say, goodbye and good riddance, 2020. I hope next year is better. I still can’t fit into most of my pants and I did enough online impulse buying to get me through the next
decade. (It will probably take that long to pay off my VISA too.) So, I’m not sure I can handle a further downward spiral. As I bragged in the last issue, we did manage to stay in print this year. I’m gonna revisit that boast and double-down because we did it again this time. Sure, we had to cancel one issue, but we didn’t go under so I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful for: all the people who personally chipped in to support us during our fall fundraiser; all the brilliant and talent friends who have agreed to be board members once I finally get our nonprofit paperwork submitted; the businesses who have stayed with us as advertisers; our great office we rent from Creative Spaces NWA at the Mount Sequoyah Retreat Center; and, of course, the talented people who made every issue of The Idle Class possible (See: the Contributors section). I’m looking forward to our 2021 editorial calendar. In the spring, we will publish a Legacy issue, which we haven’t done since
2015. It’s a way to celebrate the unsung and sung heroes in the creative community in Arkansas. This one will be big–stay tuned. We are also going to bring back The Black Apple Awards. Come hell or high COVID. We promise it will be safer than Chili’s on a Friday night. More to come on that in early 2021. Special thanks to Julia Trupp for putting up with me for better or worse this year. Probably a little more worse than better for much of it, but now I’m back at 100 percent. No more quarantine funk for this guy. Let’s get this bread.
Happy Holidays, Kody Ford Founder & Publisher
Letter from thE editor
We all had different expectations for 2020. Days after we rang in the new year, we exclaimed “It’s here! We all have 20/20 vision for our hopes and dreams!” “This is MY year!” “A lot of holidays are on weekends this year; come on, kids, let’s party!” across our social media platforms. And here we are, almost a year later, longing for hugs from our friends, hosting socially distanced events, stocking up on household items like it’s the apocalypse
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and wishing for a new year so we can try to start over. I know one thing’s for sure this New Year’s Day: I’m making a black-eyedpea smorgasbord to soak up all the luck we can get. Speaking of luck, look at us! Look at you, dear reader! We’re back again, reveling in another issue together. Like we shared in our last issue, we pushed through shutdowns and quarantine to produce another magazine and stay afloat, treading some water along the way. We’re making it, which leads me to this very moment with this very issue you’re holding so dearly. I’m thrilled to introduce you to our Makers Issue, our last issue of 2020 that showcases the ongoing adaptability Arkansas creatives have thrived on throughout this year. Knifemakers, soap makers, cookie designers, jewelry crafters, wood workers and furniture builders across the state are highlighted within these pages, along with musicians, a bookstore journey and an artistic take on face masks. Even in the darker times of this year, these creatives have triumphed to continue making and sharing items, symbolizing that
in any season of life, artists are never truly idle. As for what next year holds, we’ve got some beautiful things in store. We’re on track to become a nonprofit, which Kody has shared with you, and we’ll be spotlighting the legacy of Arkansas in the spring with our third Legacy Issue and a reimagined Black Apple Awards showcase. But if this year has taught us anything, it’s to live in the present and be thankful for what we have now, so before we get too ahead of ourselves, please enjoy this issue in all its glory. When you’re finished, make something out of it, like a vision board or collage. You could cut out and frame a favorite featured artwork, or you could even roll it up and use it as a telescope, marching band baton, or trumpet—let your imagination flow. We all need a little fun these days.
Your friendly neighborhood editor, Julia M. Trupp
MAKERS ISSUE 2020
PUBLISHER + FOUNDER Kody Ford EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Julia Trupp ASSOCIATE EDITOR Jenny Vos
CONTRIBUTORS Kai Coggin Phillip Huddleston Erin Lorenzen Sophia Ordaz Molly Bess Rector PHOTOGRAPHY Meredith Mashburn Jessica Whalen
DESIGNER Lilly White Cover Sigrid Lorfing
ARKANSAS DURING COVID
PAGE 10 Phillip Huddleston takes The Idle Class on a journey to visit bookstores across the state and see how they are holding up through the pandemic.
SOUND TO SPARK
PAGE 14 Russellville-based artist Sigrid Lorfing’s mood-shaped portraits depict alien-like features, incorporating elements of realism and color-blocking.
PAGE 13 Fusing raw jazz, funk, and hip-hop with smooth vocals, Honey Collective defies genres and captivates listeners with their soulful sound.
TAKE A BREATH
PAGE 18 Artists 360 grant recipient Suzannah Schreckhise will interview 10 community members who will share a piece of fabric that holds personal significance to them, and using the interviews as her motivation, she will transform them into a face mask.
PAGE 16 The Unexpected and OZ Art collaborate on a new public art initiative that aims to stimulate the creative economy.
MAKERS WE LOVE
PAGE 31 We talked with Arkansas Arts Council award-winner Joe Doster about woodworking, as well as various makers across the state about their crafts. From jewelry-making to custom cookie creation, we’ve got some goodness covered this year.
ANTIQUES • Art INDUSTRIAL Artisan - made vintage • Upcycled Art, Craft, & DIY Classes in Historic SoMa 1600 Main Street • Little Rock, AR 72206 501•414•8713 www.southmaincreative.com Find us on Instagram & Facebook!
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EUREKA SPRINGS The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow December Poetluck 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19
The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow will showcase young, aspiring literary talent at a virtual Poetluck in December. The featured reader is Aaron East, who is the first-ever intern at Dairy Hollow. Additional readers include Lauren Ferebee, Drew Pirtle, Clover Danos, Olivia Cash and Hannah Ash. Rediscovering Your Creativity Virtual Workshop 6:30-8 p.m. every Wednesday, Jan. 6-Jan. 27, 2021 $35/Zoom session, $100 for all four sessions writerscolony.org The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow will host a four-session workshop with alumna Karen J. Cantrell. Cantrell will guide participants in meditations to overcome their fears, develop visualization abilities, access their divine inspiration and learn techniques for self-affirmation. Writers of all genres and levels of experience are welcome. Class size is limited, so register early at the Writers’ Colony website.
14th Annual Arkansas Shorts: A Night of Short Film Low Key Arts Jan. 2, 2021 lowkeyarts.org For the first time in its history, the Arkansas Shorts film festival will be an outdoor drive-in event, presented in partnership with Hot Springs Mall, Visit Hot Springs, KUHS 102.5 FM and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. Drawing from a multicultural crosssection of submissions, this year’s program represents the diverse population of our state and the peculiar political landscape of our nation, while
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not losing sight of the fun and creativity Ruth Asawa, Peter Voulkos, Jeffrey that have always been characteristic of Gibson, Sonya Clark and more. this night of short film. “Contemporary crafts in America are The 14th annual Arkansas Shorts: A the backbone of the creative community, Night of Short Film festival drive-in will enabling artists to develop the skills take place at 4501 Central Avenue in and physically produce the work Hot Springs, in the parking lot facing the they envision,” said Robyn Horn, former Sears location on Saturday, Jan. Windgate Foundation Board Chair. 2, 2021. Gates will open at 5 p.m. and “It is reassuring that Crystal Bridges the shorts will begin at 6 p.m. Cost per acknowledges this fact and will begin vehicle is $20. Tickets will be available to collect contemporary objects as well as displaying them with their at the gate or in advance online. upcoming Crafting America exhibition. Windgate Foundation has long been a The Holiday Exhibit supporter of American craft and we are Justus Fine Art Gallery pleased to partner with Crystal Bridges Dec. 4-31 in encouraging their visitors to learn justusfineart.com about these incredible objects.” The Holiday Exhibit at Justus Fine Art Gallery will feature a selection of Sarah Cain: In Nature paintings by Beverly Buys, Donnie Feb. 13 - May 30, 2021 Copeland, Mia Hall, Matthew Hasty, themomentary.org Jeri Hillis, Dolores Justus, John Lasater, Linda Palmer, Sammy Peters, Tony Sarah Cain: In Nature will include Saladino, Dan Thornhill and Elizabeth colorful abstract works on canvas, Weber. The exhibit will also feature functional floor paintings, sculpture, wood sculptures by Robyn Horn and and a stained-glass window. Known for Sandra Sell, wood-turned vessels by her brightly colored installations that Gene Sparling, and a selection of new blur the boundaries between painting ceramics by Michael Ashley. Original and sculpture, Los Angeles-based jewelry by Amanda Heinbockel, Amy Sarah Cain’s work moves over and off Wells, and others will also be on the canvas, responding to architecture display. Due to COVID precautions, at large. The free exhibition will be guests are asked to wear masks while in on view in the Lobby Gallery at the the gallery. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Momentary. Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment. Justus Fine Art Gallery is located at 827 A Central Avenue in Hot Springs.
BENTONVILLE Crafting America Feb. 6 - May 31, 2021 crystalbridges.org Featuring over 100 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass and other materials, Crafting America will present a diverse and inclusive story of American craft from the 1940s to today, highlighting the work of artists such as
Ruth Asawa Untitled (S.028, Hanging Four-Lobed Continuous Form within a Form), ca. 1958. Iron wire 86 1/2 in. × 32 in. × 32 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Estate of Ruth Asawa.
IN THE NEWS... Eureka Springs School of the Arts receives $10 million Windgate Foundation Endowment to support the organization in perpetuity The Eureka Springs School of the Arts (ESSA) recently announced a $10 million endowment by the Windgate Foundation to provide ongoing operating support for the 20-year-old school of art and fine craft. The endowment is expected to produce $400,000 per year in operating support, after a required one-year waiting period. Most of the income generated from this gift is intended to replace annual grants that Windgate has been making for many years to ESSA, and the rest will add welcome stability to the school’s annual funding. In addition, the Foundation provided a $400,000 bridge grant to be distributed in the first year to catalyze immediate impact.
ESSA was founded by local artists and craftspeople—Doug Stowe, Mary Springer and Eleanor Lux—in 1998 with the mission of providing art and craft education in a unique environment of beauty and creativity. Long-time residents of Eureka Springs, they all remain active instructors and serve on the ESSA Board today. Over the past 22 years, the school has grown from teaching workshops in local artist studios to include six dedicated teaching studios and on-campus housing for instructor use and to establish an artist residency program. ESSA now attracts students and instructors from all 50 states, in addition to a core of active instructors and students from the surrounding area. The school offers workshops for woodworking, blacksmithing, painting/drawing, ceramics, jewelry making, leatherworking and more. The Windgate endowment will allow these efforts to flourish in years to come, putting ESSA on the map nationally. The school can now shift its stance to a longerterm perspective and focus future fundraising on scholarships and campus development. It will also assist the school in hiring and retaining permanent staff and building the programming through
the recruitment of talented and magnetic instructors. Ongoing fundraising efforts will be essential to build and equip additional studios and facilities to meet a growing demand and to provide scholarship support to a growing student body. “This is an exceptional and transformative investment in ESSA by a long-time and committed partner,” said Kelly McDonough, Executive Director of the school. “With this support we can expect ESSA to mature into national prominence on par with blue-chip schools such as the Penland School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.” “This support further establishes Northwest Arkansas as an art—and artists’—mecca...not just a nationally recognized destination for viewing and experiencing great art but also for making it,” McDonough added. The gift arises from some 15 years of collaboration between the school and the foundation. Through the years, the foundation has funded multiple buildings and land acquisition.
POETICS OF PLACES: ZIBA RAJABI & SUSANNAH SCHRECKHISE Showing from 11.4.20 - 2.5.21 at 211 SOUTH
211 SOUTH MAIN ST BENTONVILLE / M-F, 9-5 https://nwa.evrealestate.com/211-South Curated by Kellie Lehr
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Sound to Spark Fusing raw jazz, funk, and hip-hop with smooth vocals, Honey Collective defies genres and captivates listeners with their soulful sound.
WORDS / JULIA M. TRUPP PHOTO / JESSICA WHALEN
hisk together a dash of funk, dollop of hip-hop, splash of jazz and a drizzle of honey, and you’ll have the fixings for a rising, genre-defying quintet: Honey Collective. Honey Collective, a Northwest Arkansasbased band sometimes recognized as HNY, includes vocalist Aricka Lewis, keyboardist and guitarist Jordan Strickland, bassist and cellist Matt Magerkurth, trumpet player Erick Amaya and drummer Walter Ferguson. Ferguson and Strickland met as students at the University of Arkansas and immediately bonded over their shared interest in music. Since hitting the scene in mid-2018, Honey Collective has flourished. They have added members, released two EPs, performed around Northwest Arkansas and, thanks to a grant from the university’s music department, toured the Northeast. When COVID-19 struck earlier this year and shut down venues and other public gathering spaces, the group had to adapt along with the rest of the music industry. Without live performances, much of their creative focus went toward recording, forcing the five musicians to find new ways to collaborate while separately quarantined in their homes. “Our new single ‘I’ll See You’ was written by sharing little audio snippets [with] each other via email, starting with a four-bar keyboard loop that I sent to Aricka,” Strickland said. “After she recorded a verse over it, we sent the track to Walter to add a drum groove. By the time it got around to Matt, we realized we were writing a song!” COVID aside, Honey Collective’s creative process depends on the project. On songs like “Wish You Were Mine” and “The Hornet,” Lewis came to a rehearsal with a few lyrics and her ukulele. From there, the group expanded on the harmony and “explored different grooves for each song,” Strickland said, which has led them to start with harmonic foundations before writing lyrics. “Sometimes, all it can take is a sound to spark the writing process.” Whether they are performing virtually or playing socially distanced shows at COVID-safe venues like Prairie Street Live in Fayetteville, Honey Collective continues to evolve.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HONEY COLLECTIVE
“For me, the best part of our journey so far is seeing how much we’ve all grown as musicians,” Lewis said. “I am in constant awe of the level of talent each of these guys carry and it’s only going to go up from here! I think we’ve also really gotten to know each other’s style from the way we write to the way we play.” Honey Collective’s new single “I’ll See You” will be available on all streaming platforms in December. Keep up with the band on Instagram @hnyrecords and on Facebook. // HNYRECORDS.COM
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WARPED REALITY Russellville-based artist Sigrid Lorfing’s mood-shaped portraits depict alien-like features, incorporating elements of realism and color-blocking. WORDS / JULIA M. TRUPP
igrid Lorfing creates portraits as weird and wonderful as the people they portray. Her style, which evolves with her mood, stems from an art-filled adolescence, and her color block prints showcase realistic portraits outlined by abstract shapes and forms of her favorite subject—people, friends and strangers alike. Lorfing, who is based in Russellville, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art education from Arkansas Tech University in 2015 before working as a public school art teacher for five years. Now she works on her own art full time and experiments using different painting and drawing techniques in her artwork between commissions. Her favorite subject to draw is people— specifically noses, ears and hands, because “they just look so alien to me that they can’t help but be fun.” So it’s no surprise that most of her artwork catches the eye with warped realism. “I like to see how much you
can change and distort the subject before they are unrecognizable or how much of their essence can be kept despite being warped,” Lorfing said. “I have been told my art is recognizable as mine; that is always a great compliment.” Since schools shut down in March, she was able to spend more time at home and focus on her craft. While unable to hold their usual in-person showcases and juried shows this year, the Arkansas Arts Council featured her work in the annual Small Works on Paper exhibition. She also illustrated a children’s story for the October issue of ABOUT The River Valley, which she said was “super fun.” Although her usual mediums involve acrylic on wood panels or canvas, since being at home because of the pandemic, she decided to learn how to use the popular art app Procreate, which has led her to a new world of digital experimentations. “I sometimes become very engrossed in a particular subject and it influences what I am making. Right now, much of my distorted digital artworks are my visual interpretation of the multiple realities of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik and other novels.” Before COVID-19, Lorfing’s first solo exhibition at the Batesville Area Arts Council last year presented challenges that created an entirely new experience along her art journey. Having only showcased single pieces in juried shows beforehand, she encountered feelings she hadn’t faced yet in a public art show since unexpectedly losing her father a few years earlier. “My art was very personal and stemmed from losing my dad, which meant that I had to face a lot of unpleasant emotions. It felt great to be able to share my work with so many people, though,” she said.
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Eventually, Lorfing would like to get back into the educational field, earn her master’s degree and teach in higher education. But for now, fans can keep up with her on Instagram and through her Etsy shop, where she accepts commissions. “[This is] a really tumultuous time, and I think over the last months, for a lot of people, it’s been very lonely,” she said. “Art can be personal and reflective, but it can also be a way to share whatever you feel like creating. It can create a sense of community.” IG // @sigridlorfingart ETSY // SigridLorfingArt
Art can be personal and reflective, but it can also be a way to share whatever you feel like creating.
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DISRUPTIVE The Unexpected and OZ Art collaborate on a new public art initiative that aims to stimulate the creative economy. WORDS / SOPHIA ORDAZ PHOTOS COURTESY / ARKANVAS
epending on your neck of the woods, your morning commute or favorite biking trail just got a dose of color. Twelve murals now grace locales across the state as part of ARkanvas, a public art initiative by OZ Art in partnership with The Unexpected. Connected by the theme Unite, the murals form a path from NWA (Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale) to Central Arkansas (Chaffee Crossing, Little Rock, Stuttgart) and South Arkansas (Hot Springs, Pine Bluff). “Given the issues that 2020 has brought to us all, OZ Art decided to redirect our energies this year to put some amazing art outside where people can easily and safely access it,” says OZ Art manager Elizabeth Miller. “Art has the ability to change lives, and we are looking at some really powerful and transformative projects as part of ARkanvas.” Longtime Unexpected collaborator and curatorial firm Justkids handpicked renowned contemporary artists hailing from Chicago, Philadelphia, Michigan, London, South Africa, France, Australia, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The murals vary wildly in style and presentation. In Springdale, you can view Mexico City muralist Poni’s multicolored collage depicting Arkansas wildlife and Natural State pastimes like swimming and biking. A little over an hour south in Chaffee Crossing, you’ll find a silo covered in rainbow-hued poppies, bluebells and daffodils, courtesy of Australian husbandand-wife duo Dabsmyla. Perhaps the best way to see Lakwena’s mural at Pine Bluff’s MLK Park is from an airplane. The BritishUgandan artist saturated every inch of the park’s basketball courts with color, emblazoning them with graphic patterns and words of affirmation that read “Push me down and still I rise,” in reference to Maya Angelou’s famous poem.
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ARkanvas took off early in the summer after OZ Art co-founder Olivia Walton began collaborating with Miller and Claire Kolberg, co-founder of the Unexpected. Inspired by her brother-in-law’s flight across Arkansas, Walton sought to recreate that trajectory with murals in an effort to unify Arkansas through art and stimulate the creative economy. Public art disrupts the daily routines of passersby to offer an experience of beauty they can share with one another. Eliciting that shared experience is part of ARkanvas’s mission. “Art is a driver for positive shared experiences,” Kolberg says. “Walking by a mural disrupts the narrative that we’ve got circling around in our heads. For better or worse, it’s paused. I think it’s positively disruptive, and we need more of that.”
“Art is a driver for positive shared experiences.”
MORE PUBLIC ART AROUND THE NATURAL STATE
“Carrot Bot” by Jason Jones at Red Barn in Bentonville
Mural by Robin Tucker at the Innovation Hub in North Little Rock
“Felicity” by Samuel Hale at Washarama in Fayetteville
Mural by EATS & X3mex part of Sprayetteville 2020, at Free Geek in Fayetteville
Two silos by PONI, curated by JustKids, in Fort Smith Bakery District
Mural by Graham Edwards, at The Source in Bentonville Mural by Compost Pile as part of Sprayetteville 2020, at Gearhead Outfitters in fayetteville
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TAKE A BREATH
Artists 360 grant recipient Suzannah Schreckhise will create face masks using fabric that holds emotional significance to subjects in a combined visual art and oral history project.
WORDS / MOLLY BESS RECTOR PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
REATH is a series of functional face masks made by Fayetteville-based multimedia artist Suzannah Schreckhise. The body of work got its start when in early 2020 Schreckhise, a skilled seamstress, used a basic pattern to make a mask out of excess fabric she had at home. She found that she took pleasure in bringing beauty to an otherwise strictly utilitarian object, and that making masks offered her respite from the anxiety provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. “They are kind of a visual diary of time spent in isolation,” Schreckhise says of the first masks in the series, describing them as “modern artifacts” that represent a moment that she believes will remain historically significant.
“They are kind of a visual diary of time spent in isolation.” Schreckhise, who often works with crochet and other art forms typically considered domestic, constructed earlier pieces in the series out of clothing and other materials from her personal collection. She says that working with old materials and domestic modes of art-making can “bring a sense of familiarity and comfort in the midst of the sudden paradigm shift the global pandemic represents.”
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Through working with her own collection of fabrics, Schreckhise became interested in exploring what comfort and safety mean for others during this time. She expanded the project to include interviews with 10 community members who will contribute fabrics with personal significance to them—moth-eaten sweaters, a taffeta dress preserved for decades in a box—to be turned into masks. The interviews will focus on the history of the material and how and why it represents comfort and safety for the participant, and will help guide what form each mask takes. These interviews, along with photographs of the masks and illustrations of the participants, will be hosted on a project-based website and printed in a catalog that Schreckhise will sell to raise money for public health initiatives. The whole series will appear in an exhibition at University of the Ozarks in Clarksville in October 2021. The sculptural masks Schreckhise has already made have appeared in several shows, including the October 2020 Art Ventures show Synchrony. They can now be seen in Attention to Tension, Shreckhise solo show at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum running through January 2021, and in Schreckhise two-woman show with Ziba Rajabi curated by Kellie Lehr, Poetics of Places, which opened November 21 at 211 South. Additionally, BREATH was awarded a 2020 Artists 360 grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance.
Artist Erin Lorenzen spotlights six fiber artists, discussing their stories and connection through the craft.
INTERVIEWS / ERIN LORENZEN PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS Often worked on in the private sphere of the home, and often unseen, the traditions of textile arts have sometimes been overlooked and underappreciated. But, as the barriers between art and craft continue to blur, more and more spotlights are shown on artists using traditional craft techniques, often in innovative ways. Originally a potter, I moved towards experimenting with fiber techniques while traveling. I loved working with this new-to-me medium that had a familiarity to it and reminded me of working with clay. Both materials have centuries of history, of stories passed down through generations. They are a huge part of daily
SEWN TOGETHER life and are at once incredibly durable and extremely fragile. Both materials have a very strong memory and record every move you make. I am no stranger to organizing art and yoga events. But, curating the Annual Arkansas Fiber Arts Exhibition was not a responsibility I sought out. I began as a participant in the annual collection after being selected to show fiber work in three of the Arkansas Arts Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Delta Exhibitions in Little Rock. The job of curator was handed over to me from originator and fellow fiber artist Rachel Trusty.
Our last fiber exhibition, Sewn In, was shown at Fenix Gallery in Fayetteville, and was very well received. I am grateful for the community that has grown around these shows in the past few years. Together, we have created more visibility for warmth, softness, humanness, and connection amongst the often rigid structures and systems in which we all exist. I hope you enjoy this highlight of some of the Arkansas artists stretching the boundaries of the medium of fiber art with their works, performances, installations, collaborations, video presentations, and books.
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DANIELLE HATCH Daniellehatch.com IG / @daniellehatchstudio You work with Fiber and Performance in a way that speaks to the female experience, specifically to the underlying structures that society has built to prevent women from expressing themselves authentically. Can you tell us more about that? I’m interested in narratives of femininity and motherhood that are passed down from generation to generation and how these diverge from the lived and emotional experiences of women. Specifically how fabric, as a material and object, can carry a trace of the history of women’s labor and bodies. You’ve just finished a site-specific performance project. Where was it? How did you select your location and participants? It was an otherworldly experience. Me and eight friends spent two days in the remote
Western Utah/Eastern Nevada desert for the performance that took place at sunrise and sunset on the fall equinox. The site existed in my mind as a sort of in-between space, one that I had driven through as a child moving back and forth between California and Utah. When I began to conceive of the performance that would ritualize a connection to my ancestors who crossed landscapes and borders I immediately thought of these vast western expanses of land. Your recent performance piece was inspired, in part, by the James Baldwin quote, “History is not the past. It is in the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” Can you share a bit about how this quote relates to the performance?
(Photo Credit: Emily Hawkins and Danielle Hatch)
own ancestors who had emigrated to and from the US. In reading the oral histories of women who made arduous journeys across landscapes, I began to acknowledge the emotional weight of confronting these histories. The quilted backpack in the performance is worn as a literal manifestation of this historical weight and again the quilt is referenced as a symbol of the often unseen labor of women’s hands. The title for the performance, ‘All The Soarings Of My Mind Begin In My Blood,’ is an excerpt from a letter written by Rilke.
Before I moved to Arkansas in 2018 I worked with the refugee community in Dallas and became interested in researching my
ZIBA RAJABI zibarajabi.com IG / @zibarajabi Facebook.com/zibarajabi How did you originally come to working with Fiber Arts? Painting on unstretched canvas introduced me to fiber and its unique potentials, for instance, mobility, lightness, tactility, and haptic quality. Also, during my MFA study at the University of Arkansas, I had a chance to have a studio visit with Carrie Moyer, we talked about painting beyond its traditional definition, and she introduced me to a book, “High Times, Hard Times,” which is about the evolvement of the medium of painting after 1968. I found the answer to many of my questions about ‘fabric’ in that book while it raised more questions for me to explore. You fill your Instagram stories with new work daily! Tell us how you are staying so motivated, inspired, and productive during these uncertain and unprecedented times.
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It is the outcome of a mild panic attack at the very beginning of the pandemic. I was in my studio, looking outside and thinking that all my plans, exhibitions, and residencies got canceled, and I do not know what the next step in my life is. I had never experienced this feeling of uncertainty. I always had short term and long term plans, and then suddenly, the world turned into almost total chaos. I needed to stay mentally healthy. So that day, I decided to finish one work of art every day, whether it takes eight hours or 30 minutes, in order to keep myself grounded. I sustained that tradition, and it worked! I am not doing that these days since I am so busy with teaching, but that helped me to pass those days. It looks like you are having fun while you work! Is it true!? What pointers do you have for those of us who might tend to belabor and overthink each and every piece?
That is true that I have fun while working; however, when I am not busy with making, I also struggle with overthinking and dissatisfying decision makings, too. The issue with overthinking is that you do not know you are overthinking; you feel you are just thinking normally. To get out of that limbo, I have different strategies. I usually write about what I am doing and why, and it helps me organize my thoughts and be more selective with the next decision. Sometimes even this does not help, so I have to research, see more art, read, and analyze in order to learn more and maybe borrow solutions.
KIMBERLY KWEE kimkwee.com What originally drew you to working with Fiber? I inherited a huge treasure trove of vintage quilting fabric from one of my aunts. I was in grad school with no money and I’ve always found the stuff to make art with first and then figured out what I could make from it. I was so visually overwhelmed by the ocean of patterns I had gotten my hands on. It reminded me of my Oma’s house – pattern on pattern and big garish florals everywhere. It was familiar territory. Your work is an amazing example of embracing the traditions of the textile arts while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of the tradition. Do you
have any thoughts around working to preserve certain traditions and dismantle others? Sewing is traditionally a feminine realm, and I feel powerful in that realm. I feel like I’m speaking my native tongue. I’ve had the privilege of this all being for personal expression. I’ve not been pushed in any direction. I think the tradition has always been about utility and memory. It’s a different kind of legacy and it’s sometimes invisible labor. All of that should be honored. I think the notion to dismantle would just be that craft is something besides art. That’s just a very tired distinction.
CRYSTAL C. MERCER mercertextilemercantile.com IG / @ccmercertoo Facebook.com/mercertextilemercantile What were some of the first textile works you created? How do they compare to the work you are making now?
or rendering in real time is an indescribable feeling. I am making work that is shaping me.
The beginning of my work was about exploring and manipulating fabric to create interesting shapes. A lot of that early work with textiles was rarely stitched. I kept pins in it to maintain whatever shape I was creating. I made a lot of women with children, babies in bellies and on backs, and I used found objects to make the work more three dimensional. The work I do now I refer to as “textile renderings.” It has the foundational concepts of the earlier pieces with more intricate designs using traditional techniques. I love stitching by hand. Though I have machinery, the joy I get from laying fabric across my lap, the back and worth of either hand (I can sew ambidextrously) and gestating a garment
How do you fuse textile arts and activism together? Fusing arts and activism is the divine gift of my Black womanhood. I use theatre, poetry, and textiles to communicate cultural messages. The core of my work explores the Pan African origins of various textiles, in their raw and processed forms, and how each cord connects to the historical context of African peoples and peoples of African descent. Our stories have been muted with baseless perceptions and stereotypes. Our stories were thrown overboard to lighten cargo loads in the Atlantic Ocean. Our stories have been pressed knees against necks on the pavement. Our stories have
been undocumented and hunted to be destroyed. Our stories have been muffled by the wetness of a river near Money, Mississippi. Our stories have been beaten out of us and our cries have gone unheard. Not anymore… textile art is a bold visual cue to amplify our narratives, cultivate dialogue, and be seen in all of our divinity.
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AMANDA LINN IG / amanda_linn_made_this facebook.com/amanda.linn.98 Do you have any thoughts on craft in the art world now? I hope the art world is finally letting go of the distinction between art and craft - or at least acknowledge one is not superior to the other. There’s so much more to wonder about, to celebrate, to question about images and objects besides their classification as art or craft. Your work involves both mixed-media embroidery and staged photographs. Can you tell us more about the process of selecting materials and deciding how they will be used? The staged photographs began partially as a way to justify having so many unnecessary plastic objects in my life. Some photographs begin with an idea and some are born from opening up many boxes of small animals, people and objects and staring at them till a story
comes together. I come from a long line of storytellers. Narrative and good titles have always been important to my work, particularly the photographs. The mixed-media embroidery is often more about the process: using traditional embroidery materials and technique with contemporary imagery and themes. I take medication to focus on most tasks in life, however I have no trouble spending many hours making hundreds of stitches. Answering questions about being a female artist is often part of the job of being a female artist. Are you tired of that? As an undergraduate in the late ’80s, I became interested in female artists because, truthfully, it was the first time I’d known of female artists besides Mary Cassatt and Georgia O’Keefe. As a wanna be radical baby feminist, I
wallowed around the notion of “female artist” verses just “artist” for a few years. Now as a 52-year-old lesbian raised in the American south, I don’t use the descriptors of “female artist,” “gay artist,” or “southern artist” in the description of myself and my art making, but I fully acknowledge the narrative of my artwork, the way I approach creating, etc. can’t be separated from who I am. So, no, I’m not tired of answering questions about being a female artist because I’m just answering questions about being an artist.
MARIANNE NOLLEY IG / @funlovinnon facebook.com/marianne.nolley.7 Your work is inspired by the shared experiences we have, but that often go unspoken of - loss, grief, trauma, loneliness, beauty and love. Can you speak to the importance of creating work that makes these shared experiences visible and creates space for them on the wall? I use art to process through my own feelings and experiences. Even if the themes of my work are unclear to the viewer I think pulling from experiences that are deeply personal can help the work transcend from personal to universal with the viewer. Art can and does become a collection of experience. Like a crazy quilt that takes pieces from many things and turns them into one thing. Art is
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about shared experience, materials and ideas, it’s about creating and telling stories together. Who are some of your influences and what are some of your inspirations? I am influenced by everything, all the time. My inspiration comes in random bursts at random times. I have to say, my work never looks like the sketch or what I had in mind at the beginning. But, I think that’s why I am drawn to fibers. I love the process of making something and having it morph and change as you go. I love learning what happens if .. and letting that dictate the final result. I know for many the idea of uncertainty would be anxiety provoking, but the flexibility in
the process of making something that has many layers brings me a lot of comfort. It’s not done until I like it. Sometimes that never comes and sometimes it happens faster than I expected.
A CALENDAR TO IMPROVE YOUR KOALITY OF LIFE WORDS / KODY FORD Little Rock resident Kara Bibb’s love of wordplay has led her to create a calendar of puns.
uns have long held a special place in our hearts. Love them or hate them, many people try to make them and few pull it off. Little Rock resident Kara Bibb, a writer, poet and barista, has a knack for them—perhaps an obsession. And with COVID-19 replacing socializing with isolation and stress, Bibb turned her love of wordplay into a project. Her love of puns goes back a decade to when she worked with singer-songwriter Kevin Kerby and became inspired by their banter. “My initial take-away was, damn, [Kevin] is quick-witted! I started thinking about puns at work all the time just to make him laugh. Then it became a lifestyle. You know what they say, practice makes habits,” she said. Since 2014, Bibb has made a running list of her favorite puns, which she turned into a holiday gift called Sick Sea Creatures and gave to friends two years ago. “The original Sick Sea Creatures is pretty
garish,” she said. “I had an idea to hire an artist to recreate it with original art and then the quarantine hit. I already had a few Sad Zoo Animal puns brewing so I decided to prioritize it, all things considered. This project is completely for my own amusement.” Bibb recruited Greta Kresse, a plein air painter and student at Hendrix College, to handle art duties after having had an itch to collaborate with her for a few years. Bibb did not initially envision Kresse as a cartoonist. Once Bibb considered the notion, she asked Kresse, who accepted on the spot. “Kara asked me to illustrate the calendar,” Kresse said. “I’ve been a fan of her writing for a long time and I know she likes my work, so it was a good opportunity to collaborate with a friend. I don’t do a lot of commissions but this one just seemed like too much fun to pass up. This is not the type of art I do at all. I am a figurative
oil painter, so I suppose that was part of the appeal. It was a refreshing break from my practice.” For a writer and poet like Bibb, a book might seem like a natural fit. But she wanted to try her hand at something with more longevity. “I like the idea of creating something that people use all year long and watch it evolve and come to an end,” Bibb said. “The next run of calendars will have perforated [leaves] so you can easily repurpose the art to hang on the wall.” She found inspiration for the theme of her calendar in a yellow cup at her job at Boulevard Bread that had a cartoon bear saying, “Drugs are Unbearable.” From there, she took out her phone and began writing puns in her notes all based around the idea of sad zoo animals. Kresse found one aspect of her new artistic venture difficult, but it was quickly dispelled due to outside events. “The only challenging part of this project was thinking of new depressing situations to put the animals in. Luckily, 2020 has provided a lot of inspiration,” she said. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a calendar for $20 can reach out to Bibb on Instagram at @karabibb. She is currently writing a children’s book of puns. To see Kresse’s paintings, follow her on Instagram at @g.kresse.art. Artwork courtesy of Greta Kresse
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“Maybe we can all be resurrected together and come out stronger for it.” Sculptor Eugene Sargent seeks to bring wondrous sculptures and larger-scale artwork to the art community.
WORDS / JULIA M. TRUPP PHOTOS / MEREDITH MASHBURN
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ugene Sargent’s whimsical and monumental work has captured the soul and spirit of the Northwest Arkansas community. Through his complex, giant sculptures and wondrous collaborations with muralists, he has made his mark across the region. . “I have always loved Eugene’s work,” says Meredith Mashburn, a photographer who has collaborated with Sargent and documents his work. “Eugene’s art is all about community and collaboration. Whether it is a sculpture at a park or a project at the Amazeum, he is all about bringing art to the public.” In Sargent’s eyes, public art just makes life better. “When we see art and things that are beautiful or majestic or unusual, it lifts us away from a purely physical existence and reminds us there is more to life than what we can see.” “I have always enjoyed collaboration with other artists because it broadens the space in which we work and brings in new things I would not have considered on my own,” Sargent says. “Every collaboration is different, for example, the Fenix mural was really Octavio’s concept, his palette, but there were technical and production aspects I took on, and my own ideas got incorporated, too. In the end, it felt like a true collaboration, and we both stood back and were like, ‘Wow!’ With the post-apocalyptic beetle rodeo, I had spent quite some time sculpting, molding, and casting these beetles. I had a funny idea, and Meredith and Sky did a lot of careful setup and added their own playfulness and vision just before an epic sunset spread over the sky.” Sargent’s portfolio was already extensive when The Idle Class featured him as part of a maker’s space at the NWA Creative Hub in our 2018 Maker’s Issue. From woodworking to larger-scale sculptures and recent public art collaborations, Sargent is passionate about making art accessible for all. As for what’s to come, Sargent is working on a series called Resurrection, which is based on ideas and artworks of his from the early ’90s. “Now I feel the symbolism is deep in several ways: personally it’s about collecting my wits and
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rebuilding from difficult times, collectively as a community [it’s about] the prospect of building things back up again after strangeness and confusion have clouded the way.” In the immediate future, he will be sculpting the base of the Wilson Park castle in Fayetteville—two green snakes in love and a small stump for little people to stand on. “I am optimistic that we as a community have all the ingredients to flourish and make ourselves a little bit of paradise,” Sargent says. “Maybe we can all be resurrected together and come out stronger for it.” Read more about what to expect from Resurrection at idleclassmag.com. IG / @eugenesargent // EUGENESARGENT.COM IG / @mashburnphoto // MASHBURNPHOTO.COM
CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE BANDANA OF THE MONTH CLUB Bandanaofthemonth.club IG / @bandanaofthemonthclub Tell us about Bandana of the Month Club? All of our bandanas are made of grown, milled and sewn USA cotton. They are then handdyed by me in my rental house washing machine, ironed and sent off to be screen printed in Colorado using water-based ink.
WHAT: A new limited edition, artist designed bandana each month COST: $18 per month SURPRISES: Subscribe for one year and get a month free
Arkansas makers find innovative ways to connect with customers during the pandemic.
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WHAT: T-shirts (First month has $45 worth of prints, stickers and other merch) SURPRISES: Each month someone wins an original piece of art COST: $20 a month (includes shipping)
YARB APOTHECARY YarbApothecary.com IG / @yarb_apothecary What is something unique about your Medicine of the Month subscription? The medicine message is a digital information booklet including the process in which it was created, how it relates to larger seasonal and astrological patterns, and will sometimes include mediations and prompts to deepen your relationship.
WHAT: Medicine of the Month: - one product (elixir, tincture, vinegar, herbal syrup, body oil, salve, hydrosol, etc.) + a medicine message SURPRISES: The medicine message arrives on the new moon in April 2021. COST: $22 per month. Enrollment begins in March.
ONYX COFFEE LAB onyxcoffeelab.com/pages/ subscriptions IG / @onyxcoffeelab Why should people subscribe? Once your usage is dialed in the convenience alone is worth it. Coffee arrives at your door right when you need it most. Also, there are some financial savings when subscribing to any coffee. Up to 15 percent off the price when you subscribe depending on length of subscription and
amount of coffee chosen. WHAT: Coffee COST: $20 to $150 SURPRISES: Long-term subscribers get a small taster gift annually and access to early releases of their most coveted coffees.
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HUMANITY THE HEART
Joe Doster has spent a lifetime putting himself into what he makes. He won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
oe Doster knows how to use his hands. A lifetime of crafting, tinkering and making has given him skills they can’t teach in school—perseverance, intuition and a willingness to keep learning. Doster, the recipient of the 2020 Governor’s Arts Folklife Award, lives in a house tucked away on a hillside in Huntsville. Aside from his home, the property has a greenhouse, a workshop and a bandsaw mill, some of which was constructed by Doster himself. In the workshop, Doster and his son, Nathan, are preparing for the Arkansas Craft Guild’s annual Christmas showcase. The elder Doster lays out a spread of butcher blocks, spatulas, salad tongs and cutting boards. The treenware is crafted from domestic woods such as cherry, oak and bois d’arc. Many
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of these are often locally sourced from neighbors who call him when a tree falls on their property. He still purchases some wood though, when the demand is up. For years, Doster wore out the tires driving to craft fairs across the nation. Texas one week, Colorado the next. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and other states—they all became a blur as he peddled his wares. Along with treenware, he came stocked with an array of kitchen work centers,
hand mirrors, wall mirrors and more. He’d attend the fall and spring events in some towns, building relationships with potential and repeat customers. Sometimes a client might chat with him during one season, then go home and take measurements and think on what they wanted before ordering. Then Doster would arrive the following season with their custom purchase in tow. Many years have passed since his craft fair days, but Doster still sees a strong market for these goods. While he doesn’t fault anyone for buying such products at a big box store, he feels that handcrafted items have a lasting appeal. “The need for something out of wood vs. something out of plastic goes to the heart of why I do what I do,” he said. “Working with your hands – creating something – it’s a magical process, a healing thing if you’ve got issues. So hand craftsmanship, you put yourself into it. Each of our pieces is unique. No two are exactly alike . . . I think we have a disconnect from our natural world with all the consumer focus. We seem to be rapidly gobbling up our world.” Even without a strong market, Doster would still be out in the shop crafting. It is inherent to his being. It is in his blood, from father to son. As a child, Doster followed his father around the house. The elder Doster was a jack of all trades—the sort of man who could troubleshoot his way out of anything—and the younger Doster learned everything he could, assisting with whatever repairs and innovations might be needed. He took some shop classes, but was placed in more advanced classes in the seventh grade due to his academic prowess. “I took four years of Spanish, but I can’t speak a word of it,” he said with a laugh. By the time Doster reached the University of Arkansas, he had envisioned a career path that did not involve using any elbow grease, only ways to grease the skids in public service. He majored in political science and history, but after learning about body language in a public speaking class, he had a crisis of conscience. “I became very disillusioned after that,” he said. “I started looking at politicians and realized they were all lying.”
parents insisted he finish the year. The next semester, he enrolled in a shop class for the industrial arts, a move that rekindled his love of working with his hands alongside his father. Surprisingly, his parents weren’t keen on the move because Doster lost 30 credit hours by changing his major to Industrial Arts and transferring to the University of Central Arkansas. After graduating, Doster realized that teaching wasn’t the path he wanted to take so he moved to southern Marion County near the lower district of the Buffalo River. For over 20 years, Doster lived as a back-to-the-lander and stayed afloat by working the national craft circuit. As the family grew to three children, being on the road so much became more trouble than it was worth. He sought a job that didn’t require much travel and spent a few years as a seasonal park ranger on the Buffalo River. During this time, he developed some skill demonstrations with pioneer tools as part of the park’s historic preservation program. While doing these workshops, he realized he enjoyed working with the children. So finally, after 25 years of avoidance, Doster decided to teach. First, Doster taught furniture manufacturing and drafting at Cotter High School and Harrison High School. Once he realized computer-aided design would take over, he learned that skill, which he would go on to teach at North Arkansas College in Harrison. As much as Doster loved sharing his skills with a new generation, the rigors of academia at NAC weighed upon him.
claim success if your data shows you got them in [and] got them out. Data sets don’t take into account humanity and the heart.” Doster encouraged his students to take at least one class outside their emphasis per semester, a call-back to what saved him from his collegiate disillusionment. “We put so much focus on jobs that make lots and lots and lots of money instead of jobs that satisfy the soul. I have always gone after jobs that satisfy my soul.” After teaching at North Arkansas College for 12 years, Doster retired from education, although he has taught some courses at Eureka Springs School of the Arts at times. These days, he spends his time in the workshop sometimes with wood and other times blacksmithing. Doster made many of his tools after learning blacksmithing several years ago through trial-by-error, watching others and making trade items for blacksmith meet-ups. His love of acquiring knowledge and skills keeps him active these days. It gives him passion and purpose. “I’m a doer and tinkerer—just the act of working with my hands in a creative mode is inherent in who I am,” he said. “I build a lot of my own equipment like my table saw, the sander. I come from people who do with what they’ve got. I love it. I will spend way more time making something than it is worth if you put a dollar amount value on your hours. It wouldn’t make sense in a business sense but I’m retired. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of that.”
“Trouble is, there became a focus in teaching—get them out,” he said. “You can
His existential crisis gave way to a desire to quit school altogether, but his
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What Stitches Us Together By KAI COGGIN RECIPIENT OF 2021 GOVERNOR’S ART AWARDS: Arts in Education
“There’s a real beauty in that. The fabric we were going to use for people who died is now going to be used for people, hopefully, to live.” - Gert McMullin (one out of the two first volunteers that started the AIDS Memorial Quilt project in San Francisco in 1987) Leftover pieces of the AIDS Memorial Quilt are being used to make masks for COVID-19 and I knew this was a poem before I ever started writing it, something about the full circle of a rainbow, the story of these extra scraps of remembrance, finding their way to faces now seeking protection, these LGBTQuiltings coming back around to save us, and this is not the first pandemic these rainbow threads have weathered, 3 x 6 x 48,000 panels, the size of an average grave, and those are just the AIDS cases tied to faces and names, millions of beautiful humans erased, no this is not the first pandemic these rainbow threads have weathered, but there is something in the tragic beauty of what they are stitching back together. On the news, Dr. Fauci speaks at the podium defends our courage against extraordinary stigma, shines a light on our humanity and disparity reflecting the black and brown bodies succumbing disproportionately in this current tragedy, all while standing next to a vice president
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who would rather pray the gay away or shock it out of us with conversion therapy, and where does a rainbow go when it dies? Right now there are healthcare workers wearing quilted masks on their faces, these leftover blankets of memory these precious swaths of color are being given a new purpose in this unfolding the pieces of rainbows color everything golden, maybe this gesture can stitch back our country back together maybe seeing each others humanity and fragility can stitch our country back together. If there was anything that I could do, I would offer a part of my rainbow just to help you through.
From jewelry making to custom cookie creation, we’re excited to share this year’s Makers We Love.
MAKERS WE LOVE 2020
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MAKERS
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NEWBERRY KNIVES / ALLEN NEWBERRY Knifemaker / 13 years active Lowell IG / @newberryknives TO BUY / newberry@newberryknives.
and learned about forging knives. Ever since I have continued to try new things eventually becoming a Journeyman Smith with the American Bladesmith Society and even obtaining the title of Forged in Fire Champion.
How did you get into knifemaking?
What separates a knife from being utilitarian versus a work of art?
Well, growing up during the time when Rambo was popular and with a love for the outdoors, I liked knives, and after having watched Ray Johnson do some forging at Silver Dollar City, I figured I would give it a try. I made a couple of non-functioning knife shaped objects and then put the idea aside for a while. At some point knife forums evolved and I eventually found them and discovered a maker out of Gentry, Arkansas, Tom Krein; he along with Dan Koster helped me through my first real knives about 13 years ago. After that I took some classes from the American Bladesmith Society down in Old Washington in Southern Arkansas
Some knives are works of art. Most are not. And, with knives, as it probably is with a lot of things, it is terribly subjective. Sometimes someone just approaches knives from a different angle than other people. Other times they have such a great eye for the lines and shapes that they manage to nail the design aspect. Some manage it with an eye for embellishment. However, the knife still needs to perform the intended function. If it won’t cut what it was made to cut it will be a disappointment to anyone that notices.
ROCK CITY THUMPS / JON HATTON Custom Speakers / Maker of Things 7 years active Little Rock IG / @rockcitythumps TO BUY / South Main Creative How did people react to your product when you started versus now? Looking back, my very first suitcase boombox was not awesome! It was about 25 pounds, played music for about an hour and had to be connected to your phone with what’s called an “auxiliary cable.” That’s a headphone wire for you young folks. I took it to a bonfire and everyone wanted to know “Where’d you get that?!” My response of “I made it” led to multiple orders and inquiries about what else I might be able to turn into a boombox. Fast-forward seven years. Now my speakers get four to eight hours play time, and are Bluetooth. I’ve made hundreds of speakers, but as the business has evolved, I have begun making other things like lamps made from skateboards and whiskey bottles. I also do a lot of laser-cut signs and other home décor.
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What have been some of the more interesting items you’ve used to create speaker boxes? Some of the coolest, most fun pieces I’ve done -- I made these little two liter Whiskey Barrel speakers. I’ve also done a 10-gallon barrel and a full-sized barrel. Those were both learning experiences for sure! Well, everything really is a learning experience. There’s no instruction manual on “How to make speakers out of things that weren’t intended to be speakers.” You just kind of have to take each project and treat it like a sculpture. Figure it out as you go. Let the item tell you what to do.
FRY GUITARS / DAVID FRY Guitar-making / 22 years active Little Rock IG + FB / @fryguitars TO BUY / fryguitarsusa.com
How did you get started in designing guitars? What drew you to it? I was 18 when I heard about RobertoVenn School of Luthiery in Phoenix, Arizona. When I realized there were people that make guitars for a living, I was determined to be one of them. What’s been the best part of your journey? The most challenging? I love seeing my guitars in people’s hands making music all over the world! I think the hardest part of all this is just getting my guitars out there. Competing with the big companies is pretty hard, but as soon as someone plays a Fry Guitar, they are sold. Tell us a bit about the process. How long does it take from start to finish— designing, shaping and everything in between?
I usually build three guitars at a time. It takes me about a week to get the bodies and necks made and ready for the paint process. The paint process takes 3–4 days to apply and then has to dry for a minimum of 15 days before assembly. So start to finish it takes about a month to complete a guitar. I am pretty proud of all my guitars. They have such a resonant feel to them because they are built so they still vibrate and respond to the player in a lively manner. This comes from wood selection, part selection, and the paint thickness. What tools do you use? Most of my tools are standard cabinetmaking tools. I use saws, routers, glue, and traditional woodworking equipment. My main tool that I could not do without is a Pin Router. It is the same tool that made all of the classic Fender and Gibson guitars from the old days.
BEN DORY Metalsmith and Studio Jeweler Active 16 years Little Rock IG / @bendorydesign FB / Benjamin Dory TO BUY / bendory.design
focus on jewelry is a more recent decision. I love how jewelry activates when it is worn and, in turn, augments the wearer. That connection is specific to jewelry (not necessarily metal) as opposed to static objects like a cast sculpture or a painting.
How did you get into metalsmithing and jewelry making?
Your work seems to be fairly experimental for jewelry. Have you found that limiting or freeing when it comes to garnering a customer base?
Metalsmithing found me. There was an intuitive, almost irrational moment when I was at the University of Kansas when I signed up for an intro to jewelry class and decided that this was the direction to take. Previous to this, I was headed down a path to study taxonomy. The way metal pushes back, the resistance of the material, spoke to me. Silversmithing, moving sheet metal with stakes and hammers, embodied the first set of processes that really solidified a passion for the metals studio. I also found that the metal studio is full of chemistry, physics, and objective processes used to creative ends— another appealing detail. Settling down to
There’s a fine line between approachability and experimentation, and I have the luxury to make work that easily leans one way or the other. Since the process of making each stainless piece is somewhat set, I can focus on and play with the balance of pushing technical boundaries and working more conservatively. This is freeing because the large, more experimental pieces are often what draws attention to the work itself, and custom pieces cater to someone’s specific comfort levels.
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MYRIAD OF MISCHIEF / MYRIAM SAAVEDRA Jewelry / 5 years active Little Rock IG / @myriadofmischief TO BUY / myriadofmischiefshop.com ESSE Purse Museum / Bella Vita Jewelry Has COVID and quarantine affected your craft at all? COVID has definitely affected my craft. I was really getting into teaching workshops locally, those have been postponed indefinitely. I still work primarily out of the
studios at UALR, so for a second there I was having to consider how to shift my practice into my small apartment. Like anyone else, COVID provided a much needed reset. Moments of deep reflection about literally everything, especially with BLM gaining new momentum. I found myself caught up in my own weird emotional limbo, finally having all of the time in the world to make but hardly any motivation or desire. I try to be gentle with myself. When inspiration hits, I ride that wave. Ultimately, if I’m not having fun, I don’t want it.
SUGAR AND LACE COOKIES / KRISTEN LACEWELL Custom Cookie Baker / 2 years active Fort Smith IG / @sugarandlacecookies FB / Sugar and Lace Custom Cookies TO BUY / sugarandlacecookies.square.si If someone wanted to get started in the world of cookie creation, what piece of advice would you give? For anyone hoping to start decorating cookies, I would caution them to start with zero expectations! It’s a very hard skill to learn, but can be a fun and fulfilling experience if you let it! No one decorates a cookie perfectly the first time, but if you keep at it, you’ll see progress each time which is extremely rewarding! You also don’t have to purchase all the bells and whistles to get started! The first cookies I ever made, I used ziplock bags for piping bags and toothpicks to spread the icing! The holidays are a great time to start because cookie cutters, sprinkles and other supplies are readily available and
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often reasonably priced! Plus, cookies decorated with love make wonderful gifts for friends, family, coworkers and neighbors! What’s been your favorite project so far? One of my favorite projects so far was one I did for Kim Ferry, hairstylist to the stars and the official hairstylist for one of my favorite television shows The Office! She reached out to me after seeing an Office themed cookie cake I had made on Instagram and commissioned a set of custom cookies. Little did I know that she would go on to share them with her friend, actress Angela Kinsey, who played Angela on The Office and hosts the Office Ladies podcast that I listen to all the time while decorating cookies! My life was absolutely made when Angela Kinsey shared a picture of MY cookie, which featured the quote “I feel God in this Chili’s tonight” on her Instagram stories!
GENE SPARLING Wood Turner and Sculptor 15 years active Hot Springs Genesparling.com TO BUY / Justus Fine Art Gallery in Hot Springs Walk us through your creative process for a piece. Of course my creative process varies greatly, depending on the piece, but generally, there are two main approaches. In one I find a particular piece of wood that I find interesting and I try to create, from it, the most compelling shape I can. At other times I have an idea or vision in my mind that I want to execute and I seek out a piece of material that is suitable. My pieces are usually made more from trees than from wood. I mostly prefer to use green wood, with the tree cut within a year or so, and much of my work is “natural edge” meaning the rim of the vessel is the natural outside surface and shape of the tree. It is the way I orient or position the piece within the tree that produces the forms and shapes I produce.
BOLINGER’S KNIFE & TOOL / COLBY BOLINGER Knife and Tool Restoration and Repair 5 years active Fayetteville IG / @ccbolinger TO BUY / DM on Instagram Do you primarily do commissions, or do you seek old pieces to restore? I do both really. I have tried to build a backstock of what I want to build. If I feel inspired to make something, I will just go ahead and do it because this is still just a hobby. I am always looking for axe heads. The market is crazy right now. This is partly due to axe throwing, but it is also about what people want today. Quality is much more important
You create many bowel shaped pieces. At what point does a bowl go from utilitarian to fine art? The difference between fine art and utilitarian ware is a distinction I will leave to the audience. Personally I can find a high level of artistry in utilitarian pieces. The curves of a traditional mixing bowl, the shape and proportion of the rim and base, embellishments or their absence can elicit an intuitive artistic response and attraction even if it is not recognized as the appreciation of fine art. Additionally even some of my most expressive and evocative forms, I welcome people to use for utilitarian purposes. I am happy for people to have my pieces in their lives for whatever purpose they wish. If they use it, they are enjoying it and appreciate it. If the use causes the pieces to be scratched or stained or scarred, I don’t mind at all. We are all marked by the experiences in our lives, it will hopefully add to the character and richness of the piece.
than it has been the last couple decades. They don’t want to go to Home Depot and buy a new tool when the old one breaks; they want to fix the old one. I want to have a variety of options when someone approaches me about building an axe. I want to be able to say, I can build whatever you want because I have every possible option from head to handle. Do you have any plans for expansion or other things in the future? Absolutely; you’ll never be successful if you stay stagnant. My immediate plans are to invest in better equipment and expand my workspace. I use mostly hand tools and I build on a small garage work bench. I want to start creating Youtube content. Eventually I’ll start making my own handles, which will increase my ability to customize each piece.
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Furniture Designer / 6 years active Little Rock
sophistication. What is your favorite furniture to make?
What separates furniture from being strictly utilitarian versus a work of art?
Free-standing cabinets. There’s something particularly alluring about them. To me, these cabinets are an unbound entity when it comes to furniture--they are not tied to any particular room or fitted to one restricted use. They can inhabit any space you choose to place them and house any object(s) of your choosing. They could conceal a secret, shelter a small treasure, or simply be a place where you store your linens. The environment inside a cabinet is what the owner makes it and when a cabinet holds something special, I believe it attaches more significance to the structure.
A utilitarian approach to furniture will focus on functionality over aesthetics; it’s designed solely to be practical. What distinguishes furniture as art is when you disregard the function of the piece, are you left with something that can be appreciated for its beauty and emotional power? I feel that objects can transcend into so much more than their practical purpose when designed artfully. A well-designed lounge chair, for example, will not only provide a person physical comfort but can also evoke the sensation of luxury and
GILDED CARRIAGE ART / CAROLYN ARNOLD
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Hand-painted journals, book boxes and paper goods Active 4 years Ferndale IG / @gildedcarriageart TO BUY / Etsy.com/shop/ gildedcarriageart
and then everything else falls into place for the design of it. It truly is about bringing forward someone’s self worth, that they are a treasure with so much inside of them to give that is such value to the world we live in.
How did you get into painting journals and books?
Why should someone journal in your opinion?
I have been working on my journals on and off for about four years. I also love creating painted books out of old law books and then painted book boxes. The foundation to what I do is based on a Psalm from 139:16. And it reads, “Before you were ever born there was a book (or a scroll) in heaven written of your life.” For example, I create painted books and I connect with the person to what is that one thing that so speaks about them that must be scribed on the outside of the book
I believe that when one scribes their life, healing can come from that and finding out more of your feelings can come from that or jotting down an idea that you have for a next project… It’s all a treasure and worth bringing out. I love to create beautiful journals because as one journeys to personally connect with how truly amazing you are then, you have an opportunity to be scribing your life into something beautiful and exquisite such as my journals that are just waiting for you!
JENNIFER PERREN Ceramics / 4 years active Little Rock IG / @jennifer.perren FB /@jennifer.perren.studioart TO BUY / jenniferperren.com
when I’m in the room with them. At least, that is the utility they serve for me. If you don’t need them to function like that for you, just regard them as art.
Do you consider your work more art or more functional, or perhaps a combination?
I studied Robert Crumb, John Kricfalusi, and books like Animation by Preston Blair while also studying classical figure drawing. So, my work has cartoonish, animated energy that is mixed with realistic renderings of human anatomy. The combo gives each sculpture a personality of its own. Honestly, the process of working through my sculptures takes on a spiritual quality—like it becomes some sort of birthing process or summoning. I end up with pieces that feel like entities in and of themselves. When people tell me that my work makes them feel creeped out or uncomfortable, it’s like, yeah, me too.
If my sculptures creep me out, that means they’re working. I like to think their creepiness also wards off malicious spirits. They’re like gargoyles, or more specifically like mascaron. Mascaron are those architectural ornaments usually seen around the entrances of old buildings that look like human faces. Allegedly, they frighten away evil spirits and keep them from entering the building. So my figurative ceramics— cups, bowls, jars, dolls, wall sculptures—are functional like that. They ward off bad vibes
What separates your work from others?
BONNIE’S BOTANICALS / LINDA BIRR
Organic Body Care / 5 years active Siloam Springs IG / @bonniesbotanicals TO BUY / bonniesbotanicals.shop What was it like stepping into the shoes of founder Bonnie Almond when you took over the company? It was actually a hard step. I was in a really hard season in my life, overwhelmed and feeling like I was in the dark when I met
Bonnie. But when Bonnie told me that this business was mine if I wanted it. It felt a sense of hope and something new in my life that I really needed. I didn’t know what to expect now being an e n t re p re n e u r. I would have never imagined it. Business would be one of the last things I would have gone to school for. But I did love organics and I loved to cook and crafting in this business required both. So I knew I was at a good start. How do you go about developing new products? I have two thoughts: what product would I/customers like to use or need, and what
raw goods that are highly medicinal and beneficial can I bring to the table? For instance, I was dealing with dry skin and I heard how gals use scrubs. I was given a spa facial and they scrubbed my face. It really burned my face and it was a really unpleasant experience, but my face was left so smooth. So I decided to craft a scrub that felt good, with a good experience. Concerning the raw goods. I love exploring unique medicinal herbs or herbs that have a beautiful appeal. I also strive to find uniqueness . . . from type of herb to functionality of the product. I look at my competitors. What do they offer, and how can I bring my product up higher to the bar when I begin the process of developing? For instance lip balms: there are many you can choose from. I see though they use a base oil and essential oils; what if I infuse actual herbs into my recipe along with essential oil adding more quality to the mix? Thoughts like these all go into developing a new product and then testing my ideas of the product.
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MINERVA’S MENAGERIE / LONI HARDIN Jewelry / 10 years active Little Rock IG / @minervasmenagerie FB / Minerva’s Menagerie TO BUY / South Main Creative How do you design your work? What are your inspirations? A lot of my inspiration I pull from nature. From the elements I’m working with to the changing seasons. I find myself using more silvers and whites in the winter months and rusty oranges in the fall. Some of my pieces will have a spec of red that is my secret nod to the red-winged blackbird. I find bones fascinating. There can be a story told in them. I take a complete no harm approach to gathering the bones for my work,
often leaving or returning remains for scavengers to feed off of. Death is part of life’s cycle. To me using bones in my work honors the animal and helps share the beauty and absolution in death. What is electroformed jewelry? A lot of people think you just dip an item into molten copper and that is just not the case. What I do is take organic material and make it conductive. I then suspend it in an acid bath connected to electrical currents. The copper swims through the solution forming around the object giving it a protective copper coating. I like to think of it as alchemy. The first thing I ever electroformed was a mummified frog.
TOM FLYNN Found Metal Artist / 15 years active Rogers t-happyman.com TO BUY / Art Ventures (Fayetteville), Butler Center Galleries (Little Rock), The Gathering and Studio 300 (Rogers) You spent a few years as a Benedictine monk. Did that have any influence on your art or process of creation? Yes, I believe that there are powers that sometimes, if I do things right, I can tap into and end up with a sculpture that is more than just metal and can touch on something universal. The other thing is that St. Benedict was a founder of monasteries and his rule of St. Benedict is a lot about community. I love being a part of the NWA artist community. We love and support each other. This was a surprise to me, most people think artists are self centered and egotistical. I was pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received from other artists. Why found objects? It’s about creativity. I teach a class on found object art at Eureka Springs School of Art. One of the things
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I tell students is that it’s easy to make a horse out of hundreds of found objects but much harder to create the same thing with just five or six items. I like that if I do my job well the viewer will see both the flower and that the flower is made completely with shovels at the same time. What are your favorite things to make? I like making bugs and flowers. I think that’s because of the shape of the found objects one finds in Arkansas. If I still lived in the West Texas oil patch, I might like making something else.
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