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Forum ocus Spring 2014




State of the Arts at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock

ASHLEY BARKER An artist on the rise P9

Art After Dark Jason Irby’s Project American College Dance Fest Spencer Lloyd Notable Seniors


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This is a special publication produced by The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s student newspaper



Executive Editor

Jacob Ellerbee Editors

KenDrell Collins Alton Young Alexis Williams Operations Manager

Ryan Guinee Advertising Manager

Nathan Keltch Graphic Designer

Byron Buslig Photography Editor

Dallen Shields


Jayme Goad Alyssa Causey Victoria Hickey Shashank Avvaru Paige Mason Logan Sturgill



s I sit and strike the keys on my laptop, the weather forecasts call for chances of wintry precipitation—a faint reminder that winter is still here. But, if I listen carefully, I can hear faint chirping from the springtime birds, reminding me that change is around the corner. Much of the same can be said about the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, which has evolved into something of a hotbed for cultivating artistic talent. In years past, UALR was predominantly a commuter school- a school in which students drove to campus, attended class and then returned to their cars to go home. There was very little, if any, student involvement in generations past at UALR. Now, our musicians, performance artists and visual artists are putting this school on the map, all in the name of the arts. For example, UALR is the only place in Arkansas where you can earn a bachelor’s degree in dance. At UALR you can use the campus as a springboard for reaching the stars—Hollywood’s stars, that is—much like Spencer Lloyd did when he worked his way up the ranks on American Idol earlier this year. Our metropolitan university also offers unique opportunities for our visual artists, providing a place for them to create and forge at all hours of the day. The Forum Focus, this very publication, has evolved since our first publication in 2012. We are now bringing you The Forum Focus digitally, which will provide you with richer colors, sharper images and, we hope, peace of mind in saving paper waste. The group of individuals working on this publication banded together to become a collective unit, working through various setbacks in creating this work of art that you are about to consume. Our team has tirelessly pulled double duty (our primary publication, The Forum, is released every two weeks) since the semester began in January. Byron Buslig, our chief graphic designer, has designed this magazine in such a way that it can be presented to you as a piece of art in and of itself. Byron’s work is some of the best you’ll ever see at a campus publication. My team of editors—KenDrell Collins, Alton Young, Alexis Williams and Dallen Shields—all made this strenuous process a lot easier. They have conducted interviews, written stories, edited them, taken photographs and worked with staff writers and illustrators to help bring this publication to life. Our staff writers have also played a pivotal role in gathering content for the publication. Without them, I don’t think we could’ve gotten this magazine as diverse and in-depth as it is. Finally, a special thanks to our advisor, Sonny Rhodes, who continues to help us see the bigger picture in all of the work we do. Thanks for reading and learning,


Sonny Rhodes




3 Psychology of art • 5 Art after dark •

9 Ashley Barker •

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13 How to take photos like a pro •

Literary Art 15 Mr. Irby’s Project •

17 The Art of Words •

19 Cobb v1.0 •

DANCE 23 American College Dance Festival Association •

27 Dance alumni Sydney Ippolito • 29 Notable Seniors •

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Theatre •

30 Michael Lowes in Les Mis •


33 Psychology of Music •

35 Road to Hollywood: Spencer Lloyd •

39 Korey Fells prepares for Berklee • 41 State-of-the-art Guitar Equipment at UALR •

Jacob Ellerbee Executive Editor COVER: “Portrait of the Artist as Dante” Oil on canvas by Ashley Barker

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marizing their findings. The artistic experience, however, extends beyond the act of creating art. Sometimes it can be equally fulfilling to sit and observe art. Floyd Martin, an Art History professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, offers some advice on how to approach a work of art as an engaged viewer.

have any new friends.’ If somebody that I’ve never met comes along, I could just past them by and not take the trouble to see if maybe there was something of interest.” “I think anybody can look at anything and get something,” he added. But how long should a person look at a work of art to adequately extract meaning from it?

“I think, sometimes, people confuse the question of ‘What is art?’ with ‘What is good art?’ They’re not the same question.”

The Psychology of S KenDrell Collins

ince the days of cavemen and cavewomen, somehow art has managed to transcend both time and culture. Whether it was to document a war, to perform a spiritual ceremony or to decorate the walls of a palace, this form of expression has proven to be a fundamental part of what makes us human. It turns out that our innate drive to create art is hardwired into our brains and with a proper under3


standing of its powers, we can relieve stress, change our mood or even expedite healing time. One of such ideas is art therapy which is a phrase first used by British scholar Adrian Hill, outlined in his 1945 book Art Versus Illness (Art Therapy Journal). Since then, such therapy has been used as a remedy for a range of ailments – even life-threatening diseases like cancer. The American Cancer Society recognizes the technique, stating, Forum Focus

“Art therapy has been used with bone marrow transplant patients, people with eating disorders, emotionally impaired young people, disabled people, the chronically ill, chemically addicted individuals, sexually abused adolescents, caregivers of cancer patients, and others. Art therapy may also be used to engage and distract patients whose illnesses or treatments cause pain.” The benefits of art don’t stop there though. Art has even been said to

Art have the potential to increase memory, according to a recent study published in the North American Journal of Psychology. In the study, An Examination of the Learning Benefits of Visual-Art Exposure, researchers attempted to test the to see if artistic engagement had any benefit to cognitive recall. “The results of the first study suggest that memory does benefit from engagement in a visual creative task,” wrote the researchers, sum-

“The first thing you need to do is just look at things and be open,” Martin said. “I think a lot of people have trouble with certain types of art because they go with preconceived notions about what art should be or how things should be portrayed.” It is important to remember to separate appreciation from taste, Martin advises. “I think sometimes people confuse the question of ‘What is art?’ with ‘What is good art?’ They’re not the same question.” He mentioned that in today’s society, many things could be considered art. It is that premise the viewer should keep in mind when viewing artwork that may seem off-putting at first glance. Beware of dismissing a work of art before giving it a chance. Martin likens this behavior to meeting new people. “You could say ‘I don’t want to Forum Focus

“Generally, I think you have to spend at least a couple of minutes or three or four minutes,” said Martin, who was hesitant to give an exact time limit. The longer you look at a piece, the more you can extract from it. Much like savoring the taste of a good meal, the viewer must take time to “chew” on the artwork with his or her eyes. “Let the work, work on you,” said Martin. Simply put, art seems to be an essential mechanism through which we relate to and make sense of the world around us. It adds value to the lives of those who view it and those who create it. As Martin explains, “Humans need to express themselves.”




ART AFTER DARK Diligent artists burn the midnight oil

Rachel Wright


ALR students pull late nights at the Fine Arts building working on art projects. The doors of the building are open until midnight so that students can work on their projects in ceramics, sculpting and print making. If a student is inside before midnight, they can still get out after midnight. “I have had campus security come to lock the building and they asked me how long I would be,” said Rebecca Hancock, an Art Education major. The Fine Arts building is divided into sections with studios for different art focuses. The studios are always open, with the exception of the photo lab. Students and teachers share ideas in class,and students are taken through the process of how to approach the idea. The ideas for projects are then critiqued and students are shown how they might expand on the idea. Professors ask students to put as much time and effort into their work outside of class as they do in class. “If I could, I would build a room so students could sleep here and always work on their projects,” said ceramics instructor David Smith, when talking about how much work students put into their projects. “Back in the ‘90s a student stayed in the building all night and fell asleep on one of the benches in the hallway,” said sculpting instructor Michael Warrick, “and when a former administrator saw him she said, ‘let’s get this homeless guy out of here.’” The student had to explain who he was. Most students try to stay at least once a week. “I try to stay until 11:00 p.m. once or twice a week,” said Dylan Yarbrough, a Photography major. Students said they feel like they get more work finished at night. Hancock said she worked from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and DPS asked when she would be leaving, so they could lock up after her. She said professors notice when students stay late and show dedication to the class. Students have jobs or families, and the university tries 5


to help with schedules by keeping the building open. “We try to be convenient as possible,” Warrick said. In the ceramics and sculpting studios, there are tools students use to work on their projects. The power tools may be used when a studio monitor is there, otherwise the tools are locked. “It is for safety reasons,” said Warrick. The lab assistants stay in the studios until 10:00 p.m. “Students learn how to use the tools throughout the sculpting class,” said studio assistant Ryan Hunt, a Graphic Design major. “I lose track of time. I would start at 7:00 p.m. and around 10:00 p.m. I would figure out three hours passed, but it only felt like 30 minutes.” The photography lab has posted hours for students to edit their photos on the lab equipment. The amount of time spent on the photos depends on the project, said Yisria Baig, a studio art major with an emphasis in photography. “For the self-portraits, I spend three to four hours taking pictures and do not edit them outside of class because of the computers.” Art History major Jennifer Bass, said she lives an hour away and is on campus from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. “I try to work in the lab between classes,” she said. Students edit their photos on a computer they are as-

“I lose track of time. I would start at 7:00 p.m. and around 10:00 p.m. I would figure out three hours passed, but it only felt like 30 minutes.” signed to all semester. They purchase special print paper such as Perl or Mat paper. Pearl paper gives the photos a

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glossy shine, while mat is a non-glossy paper. In the Figure Drawing classes, students work from strictly observation. “Students don’t have ‘projects’. The bulk of the class is a model on a stand and students draw what they see.” The drawings will last about two to three class periods. In the print making studio students carve images into surfaces such as linoleum, metal, copper, aluminum, sponge, stone or wood and use inks to transfer the image on to paper. “About 30 percent of the class comes in as much as they attend class,” said Graphic Design student Rodney Bowie. In the ceramics studio, students are able to throw clay on the wheel and look at different glazes to apply to their work. (Glaze reinforces the pottery and adds color and shine.) Students are shown how to mix and recycle clay from the pieces they do not use. The sink in the ceramics studio has a strainer that collects the

pieces rinsed from the student’s hands. Some students dig their own clay to use. “I am from Devalls Bluff which is only 30 minutes away from the White River, and all rivers are rich with clay. So I do a lot of digging there.]],” Hancock said. The kilns are lit once every four weeks or when there is enough clay to fill them. The studio has three kilns two soda kilns and one wood. Students must be careful when preparing clay for the kiln and make sure the clay does not have any air bubbles in it. If the clay has air bubbles, the heat will cause the air to expand making the clay shatter and explode. This could also damage other projects. In sculpting students learn to mix plaster and a cement mixture. Students make a mold out of the plaster. There is a furnace in the sculpting studio used to melt aluminum for molding. The furnace heats to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The aluminum is poured into molds and left to cool.

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ASHLEY BARKER An artist on the rise By KenDrell Collins


eet Ashley Barker. She’s a gamer, a reptile enthusiast, and she’s fascinated by ancient mythology. Most of all, though, Barker is an artist on the rise.Now a senior Fine Arts major, Barker says she’s been drawing for as long as she can remember. She recalls the days of sitting in the art room of Little Rock’s Parkview High School - days when Barker was unaware she would soon be on her way to having a classroom of her own. “I would like to teach at an atelier school,” says Barker. “There’s not too many in the U.S., but there are a few. In order to teach at one, you have to be classically trained at one first.” Atelier institutions, French for “work shop,” are set up to mimic the way the cannons of the Renassiance were taught art. The school

Barker plans to attend is located in the quaint village of Southern Pines, North Carolina. The Academy of Classical Design, founded by American painter D. Jeffrey Mims, is one of her greatest aspirations. Not to mention, going to Mim’s school would put Barker only three hours from her boyfriend stationed in the state. Barker has spent the past four years honing her artistic skills to get to the level required by such an elite institution. Judging by her work and her noticeably intense passion for her trade, she’s ready. Her art, along with that of other distinguished art students, was displayed in UALR’s Fine Arts Department scholarship exhibition for two weeks during February. She said she was showered by compliments from her peers and professors who visited

the gallery. One glance at Barker’s work and you will notice something —something strange. “I try and give it universal appeal. I like telling weird stories that people have never heard of and they’ll think about it and be like, ‘That’s pretty interesting. I never thought about it that way.’” She likes to include mythical stories into her art. Sometimes, she even incorporates reptiles. “I have two pet snakes and a bearded dragon,” Barker said. “That’s another thing you see popping up in my art a lot of times. I like putting snakes in a lot of my art. I have two bald pythons.” As for her two pieces on display in the gallery, each has an interesting story behind it. The piece entitled Timeless was birthed from a

“I try and give it universal appeal. I like telling weird stories that people have never heard of and they’ll think about it and be like, ‘That’s pretty interesting. I never thought about it that way.’” Forum Focus



“Timeless” Graphite on tone board by Ashley Barker

“I feel like in order to be an accomplished artist, you can’t just focus on one or two things. You have to be broad…You have to draw influence from science and history and just everything you can.” class assignment in which students were told to depict a fictional reality. “In the composition, it’s this man and his four different stages of life, sitting with himself at the table,” Barker said. “You can see a progression of losing a sense of wonderment and childlike interest as he gets older and it comes back around 11 SPRING•2014

to being an old man and the [train] is flying across the table towards the old man and he’s about to catch it.” Barker said Timeless is her favorite piece. What one might assume would have taken months to complete only took the artist one week. She managed to squeeze in several hours Forum Focus

a day at the studio while juggling coursework for other classes. “I only got a week to work on it but I probably spent two weeks on it. The thinking stage and planning it probably took about a week, because I had to change around the composition quite a bit. Then, the actual drawing process took about

a week. I came in like everyday that week and worked like two or three hours a day. I had a lot of other stuff to do in the meantime. I kept on going back and forth.” A self-portrait of the artist was also included in the gallery. If you are a literature connoisseur, the first thing you’ll notice is that the her headpiece starkly resembles that of a famous Italian writer. “It’s the hat of Dante, the writer Dante, writer of the Divine Comedy,” said Barker. “I just really admire him – and I really like his hat. So I made his hat and wore it in the portrait.” Barker usually devotes time to doing research for her artwork. When asked what artist from the

past she would like to sit and chat with, Barker named Leonardo Di Vinci because he too was a studious artist. “I think he would probably be the most interesting to actually talk to because I feel like I have a lot in common with Di Vinci. He did a lot of everything and I like doing a little bit of everything too.” “I feel like in order to be an accomplished artist, you can’t just focus on one or two things. You have to be broad…You have to draw influence from science and history and just everything you can.” Occasionally, every artist must take a pause from her work. When Barker doesn’t have a pencil or Forum Focus

paint brush in her hand, there’s a good chance she has a video game controller in it. “I like to play video games. It’s got to be a PS3,” said Barker, referring to the PlayStation 3 gaming console. “I like the Assassins Creed series.” So whether it’s drawing a masterpiece or playing a video game or walking her bearded dragon, Barker’s unorthodox style can be both seen and admired. It will be no surprise ten years from now if she too is mentioned among the nations leading artists. To see some of Barker’s work, find her on Facebook (Ash Barker- Art) or visit www.ashbarker.com.




For action pictures, you need to make sure you take numerous pictures to try and get the perfect shot. Shutter speed and lens length will help you take better action pictures.

How to take photos like the pros


Victoria Hickey

n the age of smartphones and social networking, everyone wants to be a photographer. People take pictures everyday of everything from the new shoes they just bought to the cupcakes they just baked. Although photography may seem to be as simple as pulling out your phone and snapping a quick picture, there are a lots of techniques that should be used when taking a proper picture. Following a few simple tips will help you get a good start to your life as a better photographer. The first tip for beginning photographers is not to spend too much money on expensive equipment at the beginning. Although you may think you need all of the accessories, you will still be able to take good pictures using only the basic tools. There are numerous types of lenses and flashes. Although they can be a huge help to a professional photographer, they will likely be a waste of money for a beginner. One accessory that may be helpful is a tripod. A tripod can be helpful when taking action shots, nature shots and close ups. Because a tripod will hold the camera steady, it helps improve all kinds of shots and insures they aren’t blurry. Another thing to remember when taking photographs is the Rule of Thirds. This rule refers to a threeby-three imaginary grid that is placed over the photo. The four main intersections of the lines are the main

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focal points of the picture, which means you should position the object you are photographing along those lines. Those are the points the eye is naturally drawn toward. Most cameras have a feature that will allow you to set the camera so the grid shows up as you are taking the picture, which will help when you are trying to get the hang of it. Lighting is another major aspect of a good photograph. Time of day, weather conditions and camera direction are all aspects of lighting to consider when taking a photo. Direct sunlight has a warmer, higher contrast (the relative difference between light and dark areas) than indirect sunlight. At dawn and dusk, the contrast is low and the colors have a light, more pastel look to them. If the weather is warm and sunny, the pictures will have more radiant, bold colors. When the weather is slightly overcast and rainy, the pictures will have darker colors - though both can be striking. Photography is one of those things in which practice makes perfect. The more pictures you take the easier it will be for you to get everything adjusted and set the proper way. Take pictures everyday and everywhere and of everything. Snap numerous pictures of the same thing at different angles and using different settings. The most important thing to remember with photography is to have fun!

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These two pictures show the importance of lighting. As you can see, in the first picture it hard to see Ashley but in the second picture the lighting allows you to see her face much more clearly.

Literary Art

Author and alumnus Jason Irby writes to preserve his hometown’s legacy


or the past few years, the mission of one UALR alumnus has been to bring attention and notoriety to his hometown. UALR graduate Jason Irby, who in 2013 released his latest book My Arkansas, My Home, graduated in 1986 and completed his master’s degree in 2004. Irby was born in Wabbaseka, Ark., a small rural town about 30 miles east of Pine Bluff. Irby has been on this mission ever since he made an important discovery about his birthplace – he found out that he shared his hometown with Willie K. Hocker, the designer of the Arkansas State flag. This was a particularly interesting discovery for Irby who attended Willie K. Hocker Elementary school in Wabbaseka. Irby was familiar with the school’s namesake, but some of the details that were new to Irby. Details like: According to the encyclopedia of Arkansas website, Willie K. Hocker was born in 1862 in Kentucky and moved to Arkansas with her family near Wabbaseka in 1870. She became a longtime teacher in the Pine Bluff/Wabbaseka area. The Arkansas state flag was created in 1912 and adopted in 1913 to present to the battleship the U.S.S. Arkansas. The USS Arkansas was a participant in both World Wars, ac15 SPRING•2014

Alton Young

cording to the website. Hocker was a member of the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) which, in 1812, was tasked with the job of designing the flag. “I always give credit to UALR, because this [is] home. This is where I grew up. This is where I became an adult,” Irby said. Irby is grateful to a lot of people for assistance with his writing career, but there are a handful of UALR professors that have been specifically named in his work: Dan Littlefield, Bruce Plopper, Tim Reynolds and Carlton “Sonnie” Rhodes. Irby was doing research on the relationship of Native and African Americans and he kept coming across information about Willie K.Hocker and the name Wabbeseka (a Native American name). As he was immersed in his research, UALR professors kept encouraging Irby to continue his writing. He did. Irby even won awards for research papers. He was also encouraged to seek publishing for his work, which he also did with his Love Within Life book series. All of Irby’s work is reflective of and related to the love he has for the state of Arkansas. In 2012, however, his focus shifted to his home city. Irby started inquiring about what was going to happen to celebrate Forum Focus

the centennial of the state flag and found nothing official was planned. That’s when Irby took it upon himself to bring attention to small town of Wabbaseka. Irby was aided by Professor “Sonnie” Rhodes to make a public announcement on Jan. 1, 2013, pledging to establish a memorial in Wabbaseka honoring the 100-year anniversary of the Arkansas flag, the designer of the flag, Wabbaseka native Willie K. Hocker and the U.S.S. Arkansas battleship, which Irby credits with getting the idea of a flag started. Irby’s efforts paid off as the Arkansas legislature proclaimed Feb. 26 Willie K. Hocker day in the state of Arkansas. The governor also issued a proclamation naming Hocker the mother of the Arkansas state flag and Wabbaseka its hometown. On Feb. 26, 2013, there was a ceremony to celebrate. “It wasn’t the fireworks and parades and everything (that Irby had envisioned initially), but it was an

honorable celebration that is noted now and that can go down in history that we did our part in recognizing or honoring that portion of our history,” Irby said. Throughout the year, Irby kept the momentum with activities such as a flag-designing contest similar to one that Hocker’s design was submitted for in 2012. Wabbaseka had an all-school reunion at which Irby was able to get positive feedback for his campaign for a memorial in the city. Irby found out that initial flag revelation was at the Arkansas State Fair in Hot Springs. So he decided that it would be appropriate to reveal the memorial in 2013 during the first week of the state fair. The state fair officials were very accommodating to the idea. “I mean they practically laid out the red carpet, for welcoming us and assisting us to making it happen,” Irby said. The military was also scheduled to play a significant role, with the Air Force, Army and Navy all involved initially, but the government shutdown at the time prevented there participation. A Wabbaseka local with military ties, along with the Dollarway School district’s band, choir and ROTC all stepped in to fill the void. “It still made the program and ceremony a whole program befitting celebrating,” Irby said as he recounted the day, which was a rainy one in October. “We didn’t get the fireworks with the sparkles and all falling from the air, but the bottom fell out – it rained,” Irby said laughing at the memory. “We got a dynamic effect, but it was water.” Neither the weather nor government inactivity could dampen Irby’s positive outlook on the process. He named many people from within and without Wabbaseka who

have helped and/or encouraged him along the way. “Students that attended Willie K. Hocker school, prior to integration, welcomed me and appreciated the efforts. I have meet people who are descendants and served on the U.S.S. Arkansas.” So what’s the next step for Irby? Irby wants to note that 100 years later the flag is still waving over Arkansas or as he puts it: “The diamond has endured.” Referring to the diamond that is the prominent shape in the Arkansas flag. This was also the theme of the latest ceremony that took place in Wabbaseka on Feb. 26, 2014. This time, the full military was present with representatives from the Air Force, Navy, Army as well as the Arkansas National Guard in attendance. “It was deserving of the honorees,” Irby said as he spoke about the ceremony. “It was just phenomenal and the site itself is just beautiful and it’s elegant,” he said. “Yes, it took a lot of hard work,

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but it took the cooperation of a lot of people to make it happen and I’m very appreciative of the people it took to make it happen,” he said. Irby cited the organizations that donated money and the local people who donated their “sweat equity” with their time and physical contributions. “I’m just happy to have been involved, to be a person to help facilitate it,” he said. “When you grow up in a community as a child you remember it one way and, as you grow up, sometimes things change,” he said. “You want to keep your community somewhere that’s a positive place and that’s one thing that I wanted to do.” As he continues to bring the city where he was born to the Arkansas forefront, he continues to research the history and reach of the symbol that was made to represent Arkansas. Irby continues to look for more “pieces to the puzzle.” As his research endures so too does the flag. “The Arkansas diamond endures.”



The Art of Words Writing publications on campus


Alyssa Causey

ALR has more arts-related bragging rights than can be easily summed up from the visual arts and music to dance. One legitimate facet of the campus arts community that may sometimes be overlooked is that of writing. UALR plays host to two different literary publications: Quills & Pixels, published in the Rhetoric and Writing Department; and Equinox, a fiction-based book put together by the English Department. Equinox is published each year by English students during an intern-based class. They accept submissions from all students, undergraduates and graduate students alike. Via email, each student may submit up to five poems, two stories and five pieces of original art. The submission process is anonymous and each submission is assigned a random number, rather than being recognized by the author’s name. The kinds of work that Equinox looks for varies, but it all has one underlying similarity. Works of fiction, whether poetry, drama or excerpts from short stories, are welcomed. The class of interns meets one night a week. They acquire submissions and they visit all English classes to spread the word about Equinox and what it is they do. The staff of Equinox is made up entirely of students. There is an application process, and students are selected by Professor Nickole Brown. After expressing interest in the internship, submitting an application and demonstrating their editing abilities, students are hand picked. Students may receive up to six hours of academic credit for the internship. Managing Editor Briana Steele describes her experiences of working on Equinox as some her favorite experiences of her undergraduate career. “I think that as an artist you crave being around creative people and in this community we really have that. It fuels my own creativity. It feels like family,” she says. “It’s hard to pass up this opportunity. It’s something really neat to say that I’ve worked with. It feels fantastic to say,” Equinox staff member Rachel Moore explains. The Equinox interview builds community. It provides the students with an outlet for networking with other people interested in evaluating literature. Dylan 17 SPRING•2014

Jackson is excited about the opportunity. “I want to foster our literary community,” he said. “In this environment we encourage literary conversation.” When asked if submissions are edited, the classroom of interns all nodded their heads as their eyes widened. Stylistic edits occur. There is no proofing initially, but they analyze how the submissions can be made stronger. After final revisions, proofing takes about a month. There is a lot of editing, but there is a priority to stay true to the author. “Actually, you’re welcome to send

Quills and Pixels 2013 cover

Equinox 2014 cover

your story over when you’re through,” another intern offered jokingly. On April 17, the 43rd edition of Equinox will be celebrated at Vino in downtown Little Rock at 7 p.m. Copies of Equinox are free to students and available in the English Department. Not far from the English Department’s abode in Stabler Hall is Student Union B, home of the Rhetoric and Writing Department. For 17 years, Quills & Pixels has published the best nonfiction essays that they can find. Any and all are able to submit work, as long as they have some kind of affiliation to the university. Anyone from the UALR community is welcome to submit nonfiction essays. Undergraduate students, graduate students, staff

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and faculty are encouraged to submit their finest pieces. All kinds of work is available for submission - as long as it’s nonfiction. Creative nonfiction is a common essay submission. Academic writing is accepted too. Most university students have undoubtedly produced academic writing in their college careers. Dr. Charles Anderson is Executive Editor for Quills & Pixels. Each year, he teaches two courses for the Quills & Pixels production- one in the fall and one in the spring. Meeting once a week, his students hand select essays that undergo an editing process. The class can be taken for three credit hours in the first semester and three more in the second semester of publication. The first semester of Quills and Pixels publication entails acquiring essays and editing them with the essay’s authors. Each semester, they receive anywhere from 100 to 125 essays for consideration. Each student reads every essay. In the end, around 25 essays are accepted and each editor receives two or three essays to edit. Quills & Pixels editors work hand in hand with the authors of the essays to ensure that each essay is ready for publication. Quills & Pixels, like Equinox, is produced and published by UALR students. The UALR Writers Network funds the printing of the book which makes the book free for all students. The Writers Network is a student organization that promotes writing at UALR and in the community. They primarily make it possible for

the book to be printed and available to students. It also sponsors other writing events such as workshops on reading works in public. Quills & Pixels is peer reviewed. Every submission goes through a double-line peer review to ensure that each submission has equal chance of being selected. What makes this publication unique is that submissions don’t necessarily have to be publication ready to make the cut. Quills & Pixels editors work with the writers to get the accepted submissions read for publication. Former Managing Editor Kelsie Walker has worked in three different issues of Quills and Pixels. “I’ve had exceptional experiences on each book that I’ve work on. My favorite part of the process is working with editors closely and helping people see their writing in a different way.” She enjoys aiding writers in going from seeing their writing go from good to great. Walker has gained more than just personal fulfillment from working on the publication. While working in Quills and Pixels, she has improved her editing skills, writing ability and digital literacy. “It’s been a really authentic experience,” she said. Equinox and Quills & Pixels are two little known literary outlets of the UALR community. Closet writers with both an affiliation with UALR and a piece of either fiction or nonfiction writing now have no excuse to not become published writers.

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A tale of Artificial Intelligence By Shashank Avvaru


serene, golden-orange light fell on the Artificial Intelligence building one evening. It crashed through the windows and halls of the fifteen-story structure and flooded rooms as it saw fit. People hurriedly walked past it. Some walked toward the parking lots. Some went toward the cafeteria (it was Fun Friday and all the sandwiches were half-off). Others walked toward their homes; classes were over for the day. Some went toward the other buildings – the night classes were just beginning. Some paused to fix their hair while some paused to just admire or curse their appearances in the depths of their conscience. But in a little room on the 7th floor, things were completely different. In fact, those who walked in accidentally could justifiably decide that this was a comedy club in full session. ‘That’s the stupidest name I have ever heard,’ Sherman stated. ‘This is coming from the guy who is named Sherman,’ Jake retorted and laughter followed suit. He looked at the other people in the room and acknowledged their reaction with the humility and grace of an artist who received a well-deserved compliment. Riker’s laugh was loud and deliberate. He never liked Sherman anyway. ‘Cobb is a beautiful name,

Gary. Sherman’s just jealous because his mother decided against that name after looking at his pig face,’ he said. Jake let out a casual smile that seemed to say ‘good one, but you could have done a lot better’. Gary was paying no attention. He was on his knees, a screwdriver in one hand and an integrated circuit handbook in another. Where could he have gone wrong? At what time did his Mona Lisa’s well-planned structure go wrong? Memory flashes of him building Cobb from one screw to a 3-foot-monster ran in the synaptic mazes of his brain. He had been in that room for God knows how long now – it felt like eternity – but this was a dead-end. As much as he hated it, he realized he might have to tear Cobb down and put him back piece by piece. He knew that was going to suck. ‘I am serious about the name, Gary. Please change it. I don’t want to be remembered as one of the geniuses that invented Cobb,’ Sherman said pronouncing the last word as Khawbh. ‘I have to …,’ Gary began as his eyes scanned Cobb’s framework. ‘ … Looks like I have to take this apart. We messed up somewhere.’ ‘Impossible,’ Riker said and stood up. He walked toward Cobb. The others followed. Within a few seconds everyone was around Cobb, staring at it as if it were the dead body of a loved one. Cobb wasn’t much to look at. Wires, chip-sets, buttons, and gears stood right from the very bottom to the top of an empty speaker box. After deciding that his brother’s band didn’t deserve a third speaker a few weeks ago, Sherman sneaked it out of the garage. It served as the exterior that concealed a tangled mess. Looks weren’t the main concern here.

Cobb’s functionality was. ‘It’s one of the circuits,’ Gary said while pushing the screwdriver into the wires. ‘Riker was in charge of the circuits,’ Sherman blurted out. He then stooped down beside Gary’s ear and whispered, ‘Cobb is still a disgusting name.’ ‘Will you get over that already?’ Jake asked in spite of knowing Sherman fully well. Sherman, the 19-year-old baby who could never get over something that didn’t agree with him. Sherman, the moron. ‘I love Cobb – Controller of the Brain and the Body. I love the ring of it.’ *********

high a priority as awesome or friggin’ genius. Now, all that was left for Cobb was the test run. And just when they thought everything was set, this had to happen. ‘I am sticking with Cobb.’ Gary’s tone was no-nonsense and firm. ‘Anyone who is against that can leave right now and will be compensated well for their contribution.’ While Gary looked inside Cobb, everyone else looked at Sherman who realized it was time to shut up. A few minutes passed by. The bright sunlight falling in from the window against which Cobb stood now dimmed to a namesake existent glow. ‘Alright then, let’s do it,’ Riker said, breaking the silence. ‘Sherbaby … Can you please hand me my tool bag?’ ‘Why don’t you go to h---’ Sherman began, only to be cut short by a deafening scream. ‘Everyone PLEASE SHUT UP!’ It was Gary. He turned around and stared at the other three with disgust. ‘Cobb isn’t working. Cobb could be dead.’ He tightened the grip around his screwdriver and moved toward Sherman knowing full well where he was going to shove it. That was when it hit him. He dropped everything in his hand, turned back around and looked at Cobb’s insides, specifically at the third circuit from the right. He then burst into laughter. It is always simple he realized as he stepped slowly toward Cobb. It is laughably easy.

Cobb was Gary’s brainchild. He had been thinking about inventing a brain control machine ever since he lost to Ted Donovan in fourth grade at the Science Fair. His potato water pump deserved the first place. He knew that, the poopy-head judges knew that and dumb-head Ted and his atomic model knew that. It wasn’t until he got into Donaghey and met Riker that his plan was fully realized. They went from discussing about it in casual conversations to exchanging e-mails about it, to laying down initial blueprints, to selecting Jake and Sherman for assistance to completely building it. When they figured the physics behind Cobb out, the revelation hit them: this was simple. It wasn’t just simple, it was laughably easy. Each of them at one point of time or another wondered why no one else had thought of this. Of course each of them had an ******* average IQ of 210 and had no ethics or morals, so their definitions of Right opposite the AI building easy differed considerably from that separated by a grey-stone-pavement of everyone else. They were college stood the Biotechnology & Bio-Instudents after all. Ethics wasn’t as formatics building in all its 20-story Forum Focus



glory. It was mostly empty except for a few students and professors working. For them the day had just begun. ‘The code is perfect. You couldn’t have made it simpler,’ Professor Lester said with a genuine smile on her face. It was replicated by a cold head nod from Karl. Writing code, especially something this rudimentary, came as easily as the alphabet came to Stephen King. He was one of the dozens of students in college waiting to get their part of easy credit from this project. The one thing more ridiculous than the Biotechnology department beating AI for a $2,00,000 grant was what they were doing with the grant funds. Developing a simulator that taught students about the human body? How senseless he decided. But he needed the money and the credit, even if it came at the cost of defying his principles. The biggest story on campus since the last two weeks was Biotechnology being chosen for the grant over AI. It was almost as incomprehensible and controversial as the Broncos losing to the Seahawks. All AI professors and students made their disagreement with the decision clear in lectures and on the internet (and not to mention filled with profanity). Why on earth would anyone gift millions to a group of people developing a simulator when you could give it to someone experimenting with BRAIN CONTROL? ‘I am glad you approve Professor Lester,’ he replied, just loud enough for her to hear. He went back and sat at his desk. All that was left to do now was play Grand Theft Auto until it was 8:00 p.m. He secretly wished Prof. Lester left early. Once she left, he could pull the mute button off and play it the way it was 21 SPRING•2014

meant to be played. ‘Can you please monitor the server?’ Professor Lester asked. He stood up and hurried toward the server in silence which sat in the other end of the room. What the department called server, Karl called a useless mess of ancient computers that would be better off being crushed and sold as scrap. There were so many better places he could work at and utilize his potential, but here he was playing janitor for the server of a department that couldn’t tell computers from calculators. Just as he was about to let out a silent sigh and sit in front of the computer server, the corner of his eye caught an unusual sight in one of his windows. He stopped and looked out with a mixture of confusion and curiosity. Is that a … What is that? From a lightless room in the AI building, a single dot-sized red Forum Focus

light blinked. It blinked irregularly – continuously for a few seconds, slowly for the next few, and continuously again. And then it stopped. He squinted, focused and made out outlines of four people standing behind the red dot. He didn’t know what he was looking at. He didn’t know where he was looking at or who was looking at him. All he knew was, even though every fragment of his being tried to look away, he couldn’t stop staring at the red dot. ****** Jessica Lester was lost in the world of the book in her hand. Genetics were just beautiful. Just when she thought she knew everything, another book came out with something incredible.

Something is burning. The whiff of a pungent smell – probably carbon or rubber being burnt – hit her. The smell was nimble and vague at first but, within no time, it turned into an unbearable stinch. She jumped up from her seat when she saw pitch-black smoke filling up the room. Jessica’s first thought was to escape the room. The exit was right by her desk and the fire exit right behind that. But Karl was in the room too and his concern overtook all other priorities in Jessica’s mind. She ran through the clouds of smoke, her eyes looking for Karl, her ears waiting to hear him cough or sneeze or yell or cry. Instead she saw his back. He was standing in front of the blazing group of computers and staring at them valiantly. ‘Karl! We have to get out of here!’ Jessica yelled. The sound of computer screens cracking drowned her voice. ‘No professor, you have to get out,’ Karl said calmly and turned around. It was then that she noticed what originated the fire: the Zippo lighter that Karl held in his right hand. A fire emergency in the center of the room burst open. Jets of water fell on both of them and across the room but they were no match for the hungry fire. ‘Get out professor.’ Karl’s collected tone froze Jessica. A chill raced down from her guts to her knees. She slowly stepped back with her hands in the air and in a flash turned and ran. She ran through the exit, she ran through the fire exit, she ran down the stairs, and she ran down the stairs and out of the building. She ran until she fell, picked herself up and then began running again.

****** Gary, Jake, and Sherman stood silently and observed with the patience and concentration of a scientist watching an experiment unfold. After staring at the light for a few seconds, the kid just pulled out a lighter from his pocket and touched a few wires with the lighter’s flickering flame. The server exploded, melted, burned and crumbled within minutes. Window glasses of the floor smashed open and infinite smoke rushed out of them. The instructions given to Cobb were clear: DESTROY SERVER. But they welcomed the destruction of the entire floor as an added bonus. They watched the glorious fire and the people screaming and running. They watched as an entire floor of the campus’ most talked about building withered away in a fire accident. The black box that stood above Cobb’s head and the lone red light emanating from its front center watched patiently too. A long wire stretched from its rear end all the way to a laptop on Riker’s desk. While they all watched, Riker, who was now at his desk, confidently picked up his laptop, opened a blank document and typed: COBB v1.0 – TEST RUN – SUCCEEDED He then settled back in his chair and smirked, feeling like a general who just found out he had won the war. Everything was only beginning. To continue the journey, look for future installments on our website (http://www.ualr.edu/forum) and in our newspaper (The Forum) Forum Focus


The UALR Forum



/TheUALRForum SPRING•2014


DANCEDANCE American College Dance Festival Association By Alexis Williams


he Theatre and Dance department has volunteered for the opportunity to host this year’s American College Dance Festival Association regional conference from March 21-24 at UALR. “Let me make something very clear. This is NOT competitive dance,” said Stephanie Thibeault, Southern Regional Coordinator and a UALR dance professor. The ACDFA conference is an intense, three-day conference in which the students will choose to attend over 90 classes during the day and then gather at the night galas to present and be judged on their individual pieces. “[The South conference will draw] over 400 students from 23 universities from across the country, descending on the UALR campus to take part in this amazing dance con-

ference. There are performances every evening at 7 p.m. that are open to the public,” Thibeault said. Theatre Arts and Dance Chairman Jay Raphael spoke of what ACDFA means for the dance department. “For us, it’s like staging a wedding four times in a row. We get to see different dance programs and different cultures.” “It is an amazing opportunity for the students to say, ‘I’m connected to a bigger world.’ The students are exposed to high-level teachers, people with heavy-duty credits, some of which they’ve seen in film, some they’ve read about,” he said. The university will welcome notable instructors of various types of dance, including flamenco, capoeira (Brazilian style that combines elements of dance, martial arts, and acrobatics), and hip-hop. The hip-hop

instructor is nationally-renowned Rennie Harris who recently received New York Times article coverage. Todd Belin is senior dance major from El Dorado, Ark. This year marks his second participation at ACDFA and it holds great significance for him. “This is my last year. After this year, I’m no longer a college student so I can no longer attend ACDF. Last time it was fun. It was a trip. But this time, I can take in a lot more.” Belin said for him ACDFA was as much a learning experience as it was a networking opportunity. “This is a career-builder. You get to meet so many different choreographers, and you never know who you’ll meet when you go,” he said. Belin cited his last ACDFA where a woman with whom he had a chat with over drinks turned out to be

an acclaimed choreographer, and he had no idea. Like Raphael and McCarthy, Belin mentioned the world knowledge that ACDFA provides for UALR students. “It lets you see what’s out there in the world, not just Arkansas. Most people don’t have the opportunity to take a plane and fly out to New York and take classes and come back. But this is a [golden] opportunity.” Raphael was candid about the difficulties of planning the the conference. “Our facility is not the facility that most easily accommodates all of these people, and we’re doing it anyway. Because our students deserve the same opportunity as other students,” he said. At the regional conference, Belin said he benefits mostly by learning of everyone’s different dancing

styles. “You have your own style, and you learn [that] everybody choreographs so differently.” “We’re a young program, five years old, the only degree-granting program of dance in the state,” Raphael said. “[ACDFA] is a really big deal for us. It creates for us a sense of visibility and enters us into a larger community. It creates a commitment for students beyond ‘I go to class,’” Raphael said. “And also I think a sense of pride and showing off YOUR program,” said Rhythm McCarthy. McCarthy is the other regional coordinator and a six-year dance professor at UALR. Belin feels that pride. “This is gonna be my second ACDFA and we’re hosting it at my school. I feel like it is a big responsibility. I want to make my school look

good and welcome people in. And let them know what we do here, and how we do things. We want the visitors to say, ‘Yeah, we went to Arkansas last year, and everybody smiled and was so nice.’ We want it to be a great experience for them.” Raphael disclosed that, while the university cannot financially support the ACDFA, it has issued full moral support for the conference. “The chancellor has been very supportive. He is going to open the conference and host a faculty reception on opening night,” he said. “The degree of generosity from local businesses has been enormous,” Raphael said. “Everyone we’ve approached has helped us. No one has said ‘I can’t do anything.’ That’s a great thing because that’s your community supporting your students and your pro-


“It’s like staging a wedding four times in a row.”

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gram,” McCarthy said. This year’s ACDFA is made possible by registration fees from the dance students and overwhelming donations from local vendors. “The city [of Little Rock] recognizes that artists in a community are a natural resource in the community in the sense that the community is willing to support that visibility. I think that’s the quid pro quo,” Raphael said. Raphael spoke at length of how events like ACDFA benefit all members of the community, from the dancers participating in the conference to the local restaurants who have donated or issued discounts for food, to the surrounding hotels which will receive business to the general public who will view the concerts. The galas are public concerts of original student works where a panel of adjudicators view and give feedback. They provide the opportunity for the public to view a spectacle to which they might never have been exposed. As recently as this year, the event has undergone a name change to become the American College Dance Association. For 41 years, the event had been named “American College Dance Festival,” but this title posed issues for the event’s modern mission. “In the last couple years, we’ve talked about taking “festival” out of the name and making it American College Dance Association because we don’t really do festivals. We do conferences,” said Rhythm McCarthy. McCarthy acknowledged that “festival” was a more apt title in its early years, because it was more like a festival then. “But over the years,

“I will try everything: acting, dancing, singing, modeling. I will never stop dancing.” it has evolved into something a little different. The only ‘festival’ is the one every two years at the Kennedy Center in Washington,” she said. “The Kennedy Center is probably the most famous venue in the United States,” McCarthy said. “It’s huge,” Raphael said. The name change to ACDA will become official on July 1, 2014. Belin expressed existential reasons for participating in ACDFA. “Your body is a piece of nature like the trees and the grass. You need to treat your body as a piece of nature and nurture it. And ACDFA is a place to nurture your body, learn, and have fun. As a dancer, you never stop learning. You never stop grow-

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ing.” McCarthy shared similar sentiment. “The greatest thing about ACDFA is that you see where you fit into the scheme of things,” she said. “[The students] are isolated in their own world on their own campus. But ACDFA opens up a broader perspective for them. It’s about getting them out of their own back yard and seeing what’s going on in a broader neighborhood.”



Opening the curtains on Sydney Ippolito By Ryan Guinee


here are few students who have helped shaped UALR’s growing Theatre and Dance Department quite like Sydney Ippolito. A 2013 graduate and proud alumnus, Ippolito has been busy since graduating from the Musical Theatre discipline led by Rhythm McCarthy. “The best thing for my career was being pushed towards musicals by Rhythm,” Ippolito recalls. Studying ballet from the time she was a young girl, Ippolito faced something challenging and exciting upon turning to musicals at UALR. Since shifting her focus, she has participated in a myriad of shows at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre and Argenta Community Theatre. Moreover, she works part-time for Arkansas Rep in the box office

and at Little Rock School of Dance as an instructor. She has young girls once a week at the dance school for the last five years. “It’s a recreational studio, so it’s mainly about fun. Having the opportunity to teach more focused and practiced individuals would be great,” she said. Ippolito has spent countless hours volunteering her time in venues across the city. For the grand opening of the Dreamland Ballroom, Ippolito worked tirelessly to facilitate a fundraiser and dancing event called “Dancing into Dreamland.” The night was a success and, as a volunteer, Ippolito saw opportunities to become connected with prolific dance and theatre community members. “I try to do as much as I can, and it’s doing what I love. There aren’t many opportunities in this town,

so you have to make your own,” she said. As a part-time barista at Starbucks, Ippolito is even pushing managers for opportunities to play acoustic sets on weeknights and weekends. “Music night is about making opportunities for myself and not being out of practice. I just get out there and sing and perform and do what I love.” It’s this incessant focus on performance and promotion that has driven Ippolito into many roles in local productions. More specific to UALR, by her graduating semester she was one of the starring acts in the Dance and Theatre Departments rendition of “Chicago.” Playing the vivacious and illusive Velma, Ippolito occasionally lost herself in preparation for the role. “There would be times backstage

“I try to do as much as I can, and it’s doing what I love.There aren’t many opportunities in this town, so you have to make your own.” 27 SPRING•2014

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“It is like that everywhere, except Chicago and New York. You’re always having to make additional opportunities. I want my foot in as many doors as possible before I leave here.” where I was Velma, not Sydney, and would snap at people about my costume,” she said. Taking on these jazzy nightclub and big band roles fits the pixie-cut, five-foot-something girl in a way that surprises and delights many audience members. Her vocals can pack a punch and these big Broadway hits are among her favorites to perform. In a similar era-inspired night of excitement, Arkansas Rep hosts its annual “Saints & Sinners Ball” to raise funds for the Little Rock theatre favorite. Ippolito has played a part in this event twice, stating that it’s a fun night for a great cause. In regards to causes, the UALR alum has reached out for a cause of her own in a weekend exposé of the area’s talented artists, appropriately titled “Artists in Resonance”. The word “resonance” conveys a deeper perspective, which is good for those who seek to purvey the deeper parts of themselves. “It gives artists a creative outlet and way to express choreography not typically practiced while in class,” Ippolito said. AIR, as some call it, ways largely unsupported in

its first year. “I had to fight hard to produce the show. I wrote a proposal a different way about seven times until Jay [Raphael] approved it. It drove me to tears nearly.” But the show was approved, and soon after Ippolito and friends began the plans. “I choreographed all seven of the first AIR’s pieces. It was good for me to do, but looking back I was satisfied with only one or two pieces.” By the second year the production was met with greater approval and more choreographers joined the effort. It was used for an “emerging choreographers” production and several juniors behind her were given their opportunity. “I loved seeing everyone’s work, and I could just focus on my one or two pieces,” she said. To fund Artists in Resonance, Ippolito opted for crowdsourcing methods through Kickstarter and GoFundMe. Having seen a variety of fundraising methods, it was no surprise that she raised the funds with little resistance. “The money was used for costumes, fees associated with the websites, printing and so on,” she said. Nearly half the things Ippolito Forum Focus

has done for her career have been shows she has produced or helped to produce. “It is like that everywhere except Chicago and New York. You’re always having to make additional opportunities. I want my foot in as many doors as possible before I leave here.” And her work has paid off. Many dancers and musicians in the area and those who pass through will recognize her name. “Recognition is most important,” Ippolito said. Though she calls it a pipe-dream, Ippolito said a dance she yearns to come to Little Rock is “Petite Mort” by Jiri Kylian. “It’s a neoclassical piece, so it’s basically ballet but it’s not in point shoes and tutus. A serious dancer wanting to be a professional knows what this is. I would love to see it, even if it’s not brought here.” Ippolito recalls her fondness of UALR’s dance program and pride in being among the earlier generations of graduated seniors of the program. “They’re doing well, marketing the right way and hiring the right people. I am impressed with the dance department,” she said.



Theatre DANCE

NOTABLE SENIORS Emily Karnes and

Micheal Lowe: music student by day, Les Mis singer by night

Alexandra Herring Jayme Goad

By Nathan Keltch


efore diving into the stories of seniors Emily Karnes and Alexandra Herring, those of us who are not involved in dancing or understand it may question why it’s an important form of art. During a February interview, Karnes and Herring each pondered this very question. For some, the utility of dancing is lost. But non-dancers should care about dancing for a variety of reasons. “For humans to be out of touch with their bodies, on a small scale, is one of the greatest tragedies,” Herring said. “Rhythm is how every single human being can relate to one another,” Karnes said. These undeniable truths are summarized best by Albert Einstein describing dancers as “the artists of the gods.” Alexandra Herring started dancing at 4 years old, or as she said, “it was more like moving at that age.” Herring didn’t make a choice to dance, but she has been doing it since she had the ability. “I cannot imagine life without dancing,” she said. This passion is what brought Herring to UALR in 2009, which was also the same year that UALR reinstated its Dance and Theater College. The upward trajectory and forward momentum of this program that allowed it to hit the ground running was not started by Herring alone. Emily Karnes, senior dance major, brought more than six years of experience to the UALR dance program when it was reinstated. Karnes is currently reap-

ing the benefits of taking the risk of helping develop the dance program; she said she has so many options after college that she’s “unsure which option to choose.” Karnes has honed in on many skills that contributed to her development into a true asset for the dancing community at UALR, Arkansas and beyond. For Karnes, dancing is her “emotional and creative outlet.” Karnes has choreographed two original dances. Her first original piece was performed in 2011 and is entitled “Passion Air.” The next original piece that Karnes produced, “A Dancers’ Nature”, was performed in fall 2012. Karnes said creating this piece allowed her to express her feelings about personal tragedy that affected her greatly. “The UALR dance program has spread a more academic culture to the dance community of Little Rock,” Herring said. The reinstated dance program has put Little Rock back on the map of the dance community. Both Karnes and Herring agree that a large part of the success the department is enjoying is due to the outreach that takes place, both for charity work as well as for private dance companies. “I would like to think that we are an example for the rest of the school,” Herring said. The accomplishments of this department is the epitome of success, many may argue. Many of the dance students like Karnes and Kerring sometimes dedicate more than 50 hours each week to achieving excellence.


icheal Lowe will sing in a local production of the world-renowned play “Les Miserables.” The production will run at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre from March 5 to April 6. Lowe, 24, is a voice major and Spanish minor hailing from Little Rock. He has been surrounded by an environment of music all his life. He knew he “had a gift” and always wanted to sing. It all began, he recalls, when heard his dad played vinyl records. He was always in the choirs at church and school. However, his mom was always hesitant to let him branch out because he was her only child. “Now, my mom is all like, ‘Go ahead and go, that’s my baby!’” Lowe said. He graduated from high school in 2008 and attended the University of Arizona where he majored in physics. Lowe was not in Arizona long before he realized he was in the wrong field. “I just didn’t have a passion for it. I was thinking, ‘What can I do now’?” In 2009, Lowe decided to pursue his ambitions of becoming

a singer and moved back to Little Rock and attend UALR. Today, he is a voice major and Spanish minor. “The music department is very one-on-one and I like that,” he said. His music professor Diane Kesling gave him a needed confidence boost to audition for roles. “She said ‘Can you dance?’ and I said, ‘I can move,’” Lowe laughed. Lowe has been in several productions including “Tales of Hoffmann,” “Hairspray,” and other plays at Murry’s Dinner Playhouse (off Colonel Glenn Road). When he auditioned for “Les Miserables,” he sang “Bring Him Home” from the Broadway version of the play. “I chose this song from ‘Les Mis’ because it is unique,” he added. Later, he received a call-back and sang “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” from the play. Two and a half weeks later, Lowe received the phone call he had been waiting for; he had received the part in an ensemble for Les Miserables. “I was like, let’s go!” he said. Before productions, Lowe always does research to look for mannerForum Focus

isms in the characters he will be portraying. He admitted he always gets nervous before performances, but it is only during the last couple of minutes before he walks out on stage. “I breathe a lot,” he said. Though when he steps out on stage, the nervousness goes away. “I just kind of push myself out there,” he laughed. Lowe was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes but he’s not letting it dim his enthusiasm regarding his upcoming role. Although he admits to feeling a bit sluggish lately, he is still learning to take insulin. “If you have a passion for it, your passion is always going to be there. You can sing. Your voice is there. All you have to do is take care of yourself,” Lowe said. Since his recent diagnosis, he said his love for music has not changed but has only gotten stronger. He said, “There are always ways to make it work.” In summer 2013, Lowe attended a program at Georgia State University. He said he received wholesome advice from the director. “Everyone can’t be Renee Fleming, but you can SPRING•2014


“If you have a passion for it, your passion is always going to be there. You can sing. Your voice is there. All you have to do is take care of yourself.”

make a living in music even if you’re in the chorus,” Lowe said. He cites people who have inspired him throughout his journey, his mentor and voice teacher, Diane Kesling, Audra McDonald, and Brian Stokes Mitchell to name a few. “I want to copy [Brian Stokes Mitchell’s] career and voice,” Lowe said. During his once-a-week voice lessons, Lowe focuses on many vocal aspects: he practices scales on the piano, works on range and tone centers, and makes sure he is consistent with vowel placement. With his graduation coming in May, the young star believes this is only the beginning. He will take a year off before applying to graduate school. In the meantime, he will audition for a couple of different opera companies and shows. He has applied for companies in Chicago, Nashville, and is looking for another in Boston. If no long-term work sur-

faces in his year off, he said he will go to graduate school. He would like to relocate to Boston eventually. His long-term goal may be unorthodox, but Lowe said he isn’t interested in becoming a superstar “unless it just happens.” He wants to get performing under his belt before he decides to start teaching opera or musical theatre. “I think I am getting my dream. At the end of the day, I just want a career and make a living at singing. I’m not striving to be a superstar. I just want to do what I love and that is singing,” Lowe said. Currently, Lowe sings every Sunday at the St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Little Rock. He also works at Murray’s Dinner Playhouse but has taken time off for the Les Miserables production. For ticket information about the Les Miserables production in Little Rock please visit www.therep.org.

“I think I am getting my dream. At the end of the day, I just want a career and make a living at singing. I’m not striving to be a superstar. I just want to do what I love and that is singing.”




hroughout their illustrious careers at UALR, music professors Linda Holzer and Vicki Lind have explored the many varied effects of music on a person and their psyche, in other words: the psychology of music. The credit for the topics and ideas in this brief exploration of music goes to them and I will be forever grateful for their input. Beethoven once said, according to a number of outlets, that music is the mediator between the spiritual and sensual life. No one could tell the composer that his views on music were wrong, just as no person can tell another what music is and what it means. Music is a personal and, even in shared experiences, an individual one. Everyone can listen to same music, but we would all essentially hear it and experience it differently. Music is intrinsically tied to feelings – be it grief or joy or all emotions in between. Music can be connected to and can evoke an unlimited range of emotion. Music can provide an aesthetic beauty that we all need. The organized sounds of music can activate a needed response in us, as human beings. The patterns and structure of music is desired by the human mind. This can be found and demonstrated in the latest pop hit, that formulaic, catchy hook is what makes us want to hear it again. The structure is not only pleasing to the ear, but also pleasing to the mind. Music provides a sense of self-identity. Music can be a very personable experience. People lose themselves in it. It’s typical for anyone today to have headphones or buds in their ear, closing out the rest of the world and immersing themselves in music. That physical act is

Alton Young a reflection of the psychological separation that one can get from whatever may be occurring in their life during the experience of listening to music. Part of our self-knowledge can also be linked to our music experience. It can provide learning experiences that are transcendent and powerful look-ins to our lives. It is like looking at a mirror and realizing that it is you that you are looking at. Listening to music can have the same effect. It can be an affirmation that one is indeed alive. There’s also a group identity aspect that music can provide. Groups can form from the shared appreciation and bonding experience of listening to music that reflects common ideas, beliefs and behaviors. This can be both an inclusive or exclusive process for those in the group or for those outside of it, respectively. Music has always been and is still used in times of celebration. Professor Holzer cites examples such as the Super Bowl and the Olympics. There are few times that people are gathered that there isn’t music used to accentuate or punctuate a moment or event. This is true in those sporting events, church and is especially true in a setting such as a concert. Music can also be used as a method to pump up an athlete. Holzer and Lind point to an article in Scientific America called “Let’s Get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music,” which says athletes who were listening to music while exercising, helped them achieve peak performance. There is little doubt that music can contribute to an athlete achieving the highest levels. It is common knowledge that even professional athletes use Forum Focus

music to zone out and/or get focused before a game. (If there’s any doubt, watch all of the ubiquitous headphone commercials featuring pro-athletes this year.) Music is also being used to heal, as a growing number in the medical community prescribe to the idea that music can be used as medicine. According to Holzer and Lind, researchers discovered years ago that the part of the brain that control’s speech isn’t the same part that controls the ability to make music by singing. What this essentially means is that a brain trauma victim could possibly regain speech ability by using singing as a healing tool. There is an emerging sector of music therapists, who are researching using musical methods to help people affected by brain injury or illness. The study of music is something that is still considered part of being a well-rounded student. This idea goes back to ancient Greece, when the study of music was an essential part of education. Even today, some of the most successful people point to music as part of their reason for success. Some say part of promoting a healthful development of a child, is to use music as another learning tool, though Holzer and Lind agree that playing Mozart to an infant isn’t the guarantee of raising a genius. Which brings us to the students that we’ve chosen to highlight here at UALR. These are only a few of the many students that are involved and affected by music on the UALR campus. There are countless other students who are involved in music or to whom music is a big part of their lives. We may all hear it a little differently, but it does have an undeniable effect on each of our minds.




from Arkansas college student to ‘American Idol’ star Victoria Hickey


magine being a business finance major one day and a famous singer the next. That’s what life has been like for “American Idol” contestant, Spencer Lloyd. Lloyd is a native of Bryant and a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He has lived in Arkansas his entire life. “My dad was born in Thailand and he lived there until he was 5 years old,” he said. “ We don’t have much of the culture present in our family, but it’s something that people can always tell I look different and are like ‘Oh, what are you?’ I’m Thai, so I just kind of incorporated that into all my usernames.” Lloyd now has over 20,000 Instagram followers, over 6,000 likes on Facebook, and almost 20,000 followers on Twitter. As Jennifer Lopez stated in the first auditions, “Oh my God, are your eyes blue? Green? Girls are going for this.” Lloyd began his music career at 13, after receiving an electric guitar as a Christmas gift from his parents. He says at that point, it was more of his parents wanting him to play than an actually interest. However, the next

Christmas he received an acoustic guitar and that is when things really took off. At 14, Lloyd says he was ready “to start doing some damage.” At the age of 14, Lloyd also became a worship leader at his church. “You lose your sense of self, you make it not about you, it’s about the people and it”s about reaching out. It is a great experience being able to use the gift that God gave me (music) to bring other people closer to God.” In 2013, Lloyd was a contestant on the fifth season of ABC’s singing competition, “The Voice.” Being on “The Voice” was a learning experience for Lloyd, “I think it was just preparation for being on ‘American Idol.’ I don’t think I was really meant to be on there, I think ‘American Idol’ is my home. It’s something that I definitely feel more accepted into. I feel more ready as an artist. Through ‘American Idol’, I figured out the type of artist I want to be and what I want to do with my music. Because of ‘American Idol’, I am the artist I am now.” Lloyd stated that, up until this year, he never even imagined he would get a chance to compete on the show. His advice for others wanting to pursue their dreams is: “Don’t short yourself of what you Forum Focus

deserve and don’t give up. I really did not think I was gonna be able to make it past the first auditions. I was so nervous going into it, I was questioning myself. There were so many other good people there, all standing around doing everything and I’m just there kind of chilling and playing guitar.” For Hollywood week, Lloyd sang “Say Something” by A Great Big World and then for his final song he took a risk and sang an original song. Although, the judges felt Lloyd’s original song wasn’t something that showcased him in the best way, he still made it to the top 30. When asked how “Hollywood Week” was, Lloyd said, “It was definitley the toughest and most stressful period of my life. There was a lot of stuff that went on that I didnt really expect...but it was worth the while and I’m glad I was able to make it through that week.” “The contestants, we’ve all pretty much become a big family. There’s a lot of amazing, talented musicians that I know someday are gonna do amazing things in the music industry. It’s great to be able to have the relationships with those people, because you can see that they are gonna do great things and you can SPRING•2014



see them rise from a local artist to a nationwide known artist. It’s gonna be an awesome ride to watch those people grow to be nationally known artists.” Lloyd says he is really enjoying the experience of being on “American Idol” and being able to befriend and learn from all of the other contestants on the show. Lloyd talked about what he has learned most from being on the show. “Everyone is special in their own way, everyone has individuality and I’ve figured that out through “American Idol,” because there are so many other people on the show and I just sit there and I just see their amazingness and their awesome voices and their amazing personalities,” he said. “But you know everyone 37 SPRING•2014

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is different and they have all these people on the show because they are different and everyone has to realize that you have individuality and that you are special in your own way. You don’t have to compare yourself to other people to think that you are special, just make sure you recognize that you are different and be who you are. Don’t change to try and be someone else.” When asked what he plans to do with his life after American Idol, he quoted fellow American Idol contestant Jessica Meuse who said, “I’m either gonna be a succesful musician or a broke one.” Lloyd added, “It’s (music) something I want to do for a living. Whether or not I’m gonna be the next Justin Bieber or I’m just Forum Focus

gonna be some local artist. I want to make music for the rest of my life, that’s really the end of it.” On Wednesday, Feb. 19, UALR students sat patiently in the Trojan Grill waiting to see if Lloyd would make it on to the next round. As the commercial break ended, a hush fell over the crowd and all eyes and ears were the television as the last member of the boys top 10 was announced. When Lloyd’s name was called, everyone cheered. Although not all the judges had praises to sing for Spencer, the student’s at UALR could not be more proud of our fellow Trojan. Spencer Lloyd was eliminated when the top 13 singers were announced, so while his “American Idol” journey may be over, his singing career is hopefully only beginning. SPRING•2014



Korey Fells prepares for Berklee College of Music Jayme Goad


t only 20 years old, Korey Fells is already on his way to the Berklee College of Music in August because of his skills to play the piano and compose music. Fells, a sophomore, has been accepted into the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. He will finish the spring semester at UALR and then prepare for the fall semester in Boston. His music style is a combination of jazz, classical, R&B and gospel. Founded in 1945 by Lawrence Berk, the Schillinger House was the first school in the U.S. to teach jazz music. In 1970, its name was changed to the Berklee College of Music. It is now one of the top music schools in the country. 39 SPRING•2014

Fells was introduced to music at a very young age. His grandmother began giving him piano lessons when he was 4 years old. He was introduced first to classical music. “What they do in my family is start all the kids out at four,” he said. His mom, aunts, cousins, and brothers all play music too. He said playing the piano didn’t come as natural to him as it did for other members of his family. “I really thought it was for girls growing up, so I didn’t like it at first, then I figured out the girls liked a boy that could play the piano,” he said. Fells’ grandmother gave him piano lessons until he reached the 6th grade. Then while attending Horseman Middle School, he took piano lessons. He didn’t take

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any more lessons until he came to UALR. He said, “I just learned from a lot of people around me and went out to go to try to learn stuff myself.” When Fells came to UALR, he established his major in music. He wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do with it but just knew he wanted to pursue music he said. “Performing is when I have the most fun,” he said. Several things help motivate him. While attending college last year, Fells had an opportunity come knock on his door. His close friend Spencer Lloyd was auditioning for “The Voice.” They told him they needed an instrumentalist. “So they wanted me to come and flew me down to Houston,” Fells added. Actress, Taraji P. Henson came and spoke at UALR which also helped motivate Fells. During her speech, she talked about coming to Los Angles with $500 and a child and struggling. But something from that speech stuck with Fells. It was her passion. The fact that she wasn’t worried about money stuck out to him. “If you’re good at what you’re doing and love what you do, someone will see that and help you get where you’re trying to get,” he said. Playing the piano isn’t the only talent Fells has. He can also play the keyboard, organ, string-bass, electric-bass, guitar and drums. Composing music isn’t anything new for this artist either. He said, “Being in front of people and showing what you have worked hard to do and having fun, it’s a good feeling.” Fells’ biggest inspiration is his 17-year-old brother, Eric Fells. He said, “For a lot of our lives he looked up to me and he still says that he does but as of now I kind of look up to him.” He is always learning something new he added. “Every time he learns another instrument, I’m like I got to do better cause he’s really going somewhere in life,” he said. Another important person that plays a huge part in inspiring him daily is his father. “We are going to try to do the best for my dad to make him proud,” he said. Fells has many goals for his future. He said he isn’t positive on exactly what he wants to do after graduating from the Berklee College of Music, but he does know it will be in music. “I know I want to be a performer, whether it’s playing somebody else’s music or my own,” he said. Also a member of UALR’s Chancellor Leadership Corporation, Fells received a $14,000 scholarship from the Berklee College of Music. Although the annual costs are about $60,000, he is determined to raise the money to pay for the remainder of his tuition. He said he is a very positive person and likes to smile a lot. “I’m open to meeting new people and making new friends,” he said.

He is a member of the band called Soulution from Little Rock. They are a young band that plays neo-soul and R & B. They have mostly played for wedding parties and events. When Fells isn’t consumed in his music, he loves to spending time with family and friends, working out, and playing video games. If you would like to donate to help Korey attend the Berklee College of Music visit: http://www.gofundme. com/koreyfells.

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Guitarists flock to UALR to hone their skills with state-of-the-art equipment and software Jacob Ellerbee

“I call this a guitar-centric learning environment,”

Michael Carenbauer says one February afternoon in one of his guitar classrooms at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “The guitarist isn’t somebody that’s just sort of pushed off to the side.” Carenbauer, professor of music and the director of guitar studies at UALR, teaches what he calls, “the most comprehensive curriculum for guitar in the state and one of the most innovative in the nation.” Students enter this program with varying degrees of skill, but after they leave, some of them excel in the industry. One such alumnus of the program is Tony Morris, who is the host of NPR’s “Classical Guitar Alive.” His program is the only nationally broadcast guitar radio program in the world, according to its website. The weekly program is heard on more than 250 radio stations around the world. Morris interviews musicians and features music on the program each week. Another is Dan Peterson, who is a leader of the U.S. Marine small jazz ensemble. Beau Bledsoe, a graduate of the program who immersed himself in classical and flamenco guitar playing, now owns a successful recording label. Bledsoe’s independent label, Tzigane Music, boasts classical, jazz and argentine tango styles of music. However, during our interview, Carenbauer stressed the very small percentage of people who are able to make it to where they want to be in the music industry. Carenbauer says that making it in the music industry is sort of like making it to the NBA. “How many people from Arkansas are in the NBA? 41 SPRING•2014

Let’s say there’s four. So, there’re four guys that actually have a job [from Arkansas] playing in the NBA.” “And how many full-time- in other words that’s all they do, but teach guitar- tenure track, music faculty are [just teaching] guitar in the state of Arkansas?” “There’s only one. So, you’d be better off working on your jump shot. Your chances are better,” Carenbauer says. The professor says he’s not trying to scare anyone away; he simply wants them to be realistic with their outlook. “You gotta catch lightning in a bottle, a little bit, with something like that. It’s the same thing with the arts. It’s just really hard to get a job. And to get a job that’s sort of affiliated with a school that’s not going to go out of business- probably- you have to be the right person at the right time.” “Once you get a job in the arts, it’s kind of a life-sentence,” he said. “You know, you’re probably not going anywhere.” But, Carenbauer said, it all starts in the classroom. Carenbauer said there’s a specific type of person that he looks for to enter to the guitar program at UALR. He referenced a recent experiment he saw on television which featured a wolf and a domesticated dog. “They have this piece of meat that’s mounted in this cage and they couldn’t get it out- the dog or the wolf. So, the dog would go up to [the cage] and there would be a human standing there. The dog would go up to it and try for like 5 seconds and then look up at the human and kinda say, ‘Hey let’s get this moving on here,’”

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Carenbauer said. “The wolf would just kind of say ‘I’m going to do this my way. I don’t care about you. This is all about me and this piece of meat.’ “The guitarist is sort of like that wolf, a lot in terms of the mentality, if I were to sort of make a general observation,” Carenbauer explains. Carenbauer contrasts that with someone who is assigned an instrument in grade school and is taught how to play it and when to play it. “The person that picked up the clarinet in the 4th grade and they just happened to be there and somebody said, ‘Well, we need a clarinetist.’ They give you a clarinet, they don’t know what to do until somebody says, ‘Ok, I want you to put this end of it in your mouth and blow into it and you’ve got to play this note and its going to be that long.’” “You’re always playing with an ensemble,” Carenbauer adds. “You’re taking a more formal approach where you’re reliant on other people to sort of get you started.” “The normal guitarist, for instance, gets a guitar, sort of hangs out with their buddies and they get together in their mom’s basement and they play everything as loud and as fast as they can and they don’t know the names of any of the notes.” Carenbauer said it’s his job to help refine that sound and teach the guitarist how to play more efficiently and precisely. “This is a school of music, embedded within a university, and we want to be able to speak the same language that everyone else speaks and sort of deal with music that way,” Carenbauer said. “So, what I try to do is give them those skills and use

music that they might sort of find attractive.” Carenbauer said he will let the student choose the style they like to play, find an artist within that style and prove to him that they can work within that style. For example, someone who is interested in a bluesrock style might want to cover Stevie Ray Vaughn and some of his guitar solos. “What I might have them do then,” Carenbauer said, “is to transcribe a Stevie Ray Vaughn solo, but then they have to write it out.” Carenauer uses this as a vehicle for literacy, he said. When it’s time for the student to begin playing the guitar in their coursework, they have access to hi-tech equipment to help master their instrument. There are 12 midi, or musical instrument digital interface, guitars in the classroom for students to use. Each midi-enabled guitar hooks up to a computer, which has the SmartMusic program downloaded on it. The guitar, coupled with the software, gives the guitarist feedback in real-time on things like timing, accuracy, precision and more. “This is the only place that I know of where you’re getting instant feedback,” Carenbauer said. He added that students are able to complete the work at home on their own time and then send it in so he can check student progress. Carenbauer said he’s equipping the students with the tools they need so they can go out and explore what direction, or style, they want to pursue. The guitar program at UALR also boasts a student organization, the UALR Student Guitar Society. The group has been active since the 1990s and uses the student activity fee to bring the international winner of the Guitar Foundation of America’s annual competition to UALR.

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Photo credits by order of appearance

Paige Mason P3 Rachel Wright P6, 7, 8 KenDrell Collins P9, 11 Courtesy of Ashley Barker P12 Victoria Hickey P14 Courtesy of Jason Irby P15, 16 Courtesy of Equinox P17 Courtesy of Quills and Pixels P18 Logan Sturgill P19, 21 Alexis Williams P25 Courtesy of Todd Belin P26 Courtesy of Emily Karnes P29 Courtesy of Alexandra Herring P29 Jayme Goad P30, 31, 39, 40 Byron Buslig P33 Courtesy of American Idol and FOX P35, 37, 38 Jacob Ellerbee P41, 42 A special thanks to all the contributors for all their hard work and enthusiasm despite all odds

43 SPRING•2014

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Forum Focus: Spring 2014  

Our annual magazine, the Forum Focus is now available for you to enjoy on any smartphone, tablet or computer. We're proud to present to yo...

Forum Focus: Spring 2014  

Our annual magazine, the Forum Focus is now available for you to enjoy on any smartphone, tablet or computer. We're proud to present to yo...


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