Aj Smith, born in Jonestown, Mississippi, lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, Endangered, 2016, graphite on paper, 46 x 36 inches
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Cathy Burns, born in Holly Grove, Arkansas, lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas, When Our Walls Fall Down: Uncovered Sinz, 2016, iPhonography print, 8 x 10 inches
Cathy Burns, born in Holly Grove, Arkansas, lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Different Somehow: Stand on Your Own, 2016, iPhonography print of mixed media collage, 8 x 8 inches
On my Instagram account I reveal this about my persona in my profile – “one who loves to look…an artist soul, lover of line & surface, painter of sorts.” I have always been an artist. I have always been fascinated by the alchemy of image meeting paper, whether it be in a drawing, a painting, or a photograph. Being raised deep in the Arkansas Delta, this exhibit is significant to me. It began the year I was born: 1958. The landscape, the sensibility that informs my art is reflected in the name – in the concept, and in the aesthetic of this exhibit. I am mostly a mixed media artist but my art is ever evolving. The iPhone most recently has allowed me a more expedient method with which to explore my visual process. When Our Walls Fall Down: Uncovered SINZ was captured in Helena, a once-thriving Arkansas town. I rounded a corner by the Mississippi River to discover this building a friend wanted me to see. It had been a beautiful part of downtown at one time, a Wholesale or Warehouse business. It was in the process of being razed, it’s longstanding brick walls being torn down. Yet, within I saw spaces with vaults and rooms for storage. Shelves were still holding materials. I knew though the building had long been abandoned. The ghost sign on an inner wall SINZ pushed my creative mind as I shot the image and my imagination pieced the picture with metaphorical possibilities of a title for the piece. Letters and numbers have been a constant in my art vocabulary. Different Somehow: Stand On Your Own happened as I was working in my studio – my sanctum. While putting together a mixed media painting, I placed a cut-out, a paper-doll, on top of the work. This took me back to my childhood again. Living in the Delta, growing up in the middle of cotton and rice fields, sometimes it was easy to feel lost in the vast and often lonely landscape. I had paper-dolls for my imaginary friends. I felt a similar sense of play while fashioning this work. As I laid this paper cut-out against the finished painting, they paired perfectly, and the light coming in the window created a wonderful shadow just before I adhered the collage piece to the painting. The cut-out female figure in this piece juxtaposed against the painted background serves to represent my life as a woman artist in the south.
– Cathy Burns
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Frank Hamrick, born in Carrollton, Georgia, lives in Ruston, Louisiana, Harder than writing a good haiku, 2016, handmade book, 7.5 x 7.25 inches, honorable mention
The phrase Harder than writing a good haiku was an analogy I spoke of while helping another artist edit their work to a manageable number of images while leaving enough to still convey the original concept. These photographs, originally created as 8×10” and 8×8” tintypes, were conceived as select moments from stories where the hint of a narrative open to the viewers’ interpretation is more important than the specifics of the characters’ identities or where they are located. The scenes depicted are designed to engage whether they are totally familiar or curiously exotic, depending on each viewer’s background.
– Frank Hamrick
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Ron Burcham, born in Benton, Arkansas, lives in Benton, Arkansas, Bonaire, 2017, red grandis eucalyptis and white oak, 48 x 24 x 38 inches
From an old-growth White Oak tree to a bridge timber, to being repurposed as a support member in a barn, it was decades before the wood became mine. When I cut into it, I discovered the beautiful wood that started and sustained the Arts and Crafts movement. As a novice woodworker, I didn’t realize what I had and made things a lesser-quality wood would have been better suited for. But one valuable insight I gained was that every piece of wood has a story, which inspired my love of wood and woodworking.
Trees stand in one place and witness history. Around the world, trees form sacred groves, observing rites and rituals. Trees can also be transformed into some of the most beautiful objects in our lives. This is why I have a reverence for wood.
– Ron Burcham
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Bryan Clifton, born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, Chirinos, 2015, inkjet print, 16 x 20 inches
As a documentary photographer, I capture nonfiction. Life as it Is.
With a focus on international aid and development, I have traveled across five continents documenting the human impact of community development agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), non-profits and progressive for-profits—those that do well by doing good.
I am particularly inspired by telling visual stories about people who achieve a dignified and sustainable livelihood when empowered with a few tools, and barriers to their progress are removed. This work has nurtured a passion in me for supporting organizations that recognize how lives can be positively influenced by respectful and conscientious business practices.
– Bryan Clifton
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LaDawna Whiteside, born in Durant, Oklahoma, lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Body: Flesh and Bone, 2016, graphite on paper, 96 x 96 inches, Contemporaries Award Winner
Body: Flesh and Bone is an abstract, genderless, figurative drawing composition. Figure drawing requires that one look at shape relationships to construct form. Whether it is toward the goals of form, function or both, most everyone has the capacity to build a body to a certain degree. Aside from natural or unnatural vulnerabilities, we are each given a starting point or framework that can be transformed into a version that is healthy or not, based on personal quests and
From my mind, to my body, standing, squatting, stretching, I make graphite marks using a hard edge as a boundary line. Amidst varied speed and pressure points, each mark is birthed and brought to rest with weight and movement, resembling the weaving process. Ann Hamilton
makes a connection between the woven material and touch in her work habitus as she states, ‘cloth is the body’s first architecture; it protects, conceals and reveals; it carries a body’s weight, swaddles at birth, covers in sleep and in death.’
As the human body is continually moving and changing positions and dimensions over time, Body: Flesh and Bone is an installation that is intended to shift each time it is reconstructed for a new environment. For now, this installation is a living drawing and as in contemporary physiology, contains varied interchangeable parts. What meaning can be captured from the sense of touch within what we make? What can the living sense when visually interpreting residual physical traces in drawings? Through the meditative yet thoughtful experience of making, I build and think as I draw.
Genderless, the abstract drawing installation aims to open up ideas about the body beyond sexuality toward functional human figure in action. What are the challenges that we face as individuals with our own bodies? Beyond the body as a figurative object, I am most interested in how we connect our mind and body as a form of human need to be a moving, thinking machine. As in this drawing installation, bodies have lines and curves with varied shapes and dimensions. Learning about the body by placing emphasis on wellness, form and function is essential to building a body that is most viable to live in.
Crafting ourselves is a starting place for individuals to express who they are and what they are about. Body: Flesh and Bone intends to capture through touch, from mind to hand, an abstracted human form as if mapping a capacity to reconstruct our anatomy using centrifugal forces in dynamic perception.
– LaDawna Whiteside
Artist LaDawna Whiteside
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Dennis McCann, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, Working Class, 2017, pastel on paper, 37 x 42 inches
Dennis McCann, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, Blue, 2016, pastel on paper, 20 x 44 inches
Dennis McCann, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, “O”, 2016, pastel on paper, 30 x 30 inches
Like most artists, my work has periods of change or growth as I adapt to new techniques and experiences. These changes deal mostly with subject matter, scale, and process. Most of my artwork uses strong sunlight and shadows to establish interesting compositions.
I am currently working on a series of figurative images from both current and old photographs. These images emphasize interesting shapes created by the play of light over the human figure, and other objects. They represent “a slice of life” both past and present. Using playful colors on the figures sometimes creates an abstract quality in a realistic setting. The old black and white photos also complement the use of charcoal as a medium.
I am also working on a series of images from neon signs. In these, I focus on a portion of the sign, creating an almost abstract quality. As in my other work, these works rely heavily on light, contrast, and shapes.
To create my artwork, I generally work in my studio, using photographs. The large paper is pinned to the wall and I listen to music while I draw or paint. Each piece is a representation of the photo and I make adjustments to the composition based on intensity of light, color or subject complexity.
— Dennis McCann
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