Voices of the Delta: Jason McCann

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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Jason McCann, The American Student: Montre with Two Lamps, 2018, watercolor and pastel on paper, 66 x 42 inches

For the last 17 years I’ve spent nearly every day teaching art classes to teenagers either at Little Rock Central High School or at Arkansas Governor’s School. Dual careers as artist and art teacher at times can be very similar and at other times seem completely unrelated. Over the last few years, however, I’ve begun to have a better understanding of how these two sides of my life are connected. My interactions and experiences with these students have had a huge impact on the things I do in my artwork. As I remind them about compositional balance or the correct way to handle color and value to create emphasis, I’m reminded to do it in my own work. As I teach them the importance of the concept or the story they wish to tell in their work, it makes me think about what I’m communicating in my paintings and drawings. In short, these students are as much an influence on me as I am on them.

Recently, there has been a great deal of debate over how our children should be educated with traditional public schools coming under fire. In some cases, school systems have folded due to funding being distributed to charter systems or tax waivers for private schools. The only way I’ve found to deal with my frustration with this situation is to focus on what I can directly affect: the students I see on a daily basis.  I simply work with the kids assigned to my classes and give to them as much as I can. These drawings and paintings are intended to remind us who these kids are in a way that is not idealized or over dramatized. Meanwhile, the technique of mixing wet and dry media creates a surface that is somewhat chaotic, unpredictable, and perhaps out of control which serves as visual representation of the political and social upheaval surrounding the institutions they attend. These students, who are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, special needs and gifted, are the ones who are most deeply affected by these debates and legislative decisions. I’ve shown them in an ordinary classroom during what is a regular day. In this setting and in these images, their standardized test scores or where their families fall on the median income line are forgotten; they are just kids in class that deserve to have their educational needs fulfilled, no matter their zip-code.

– Jason McCann

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Voices of the Delta: Daniel Franke

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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Daniel Franke, Wishbone, 2018, pine and mortar pigment, 66 x 20 x 3 1/2 inches

It would be interesting to believe that my preference for wood as a medium is rooted in millennia of forebearers wresting survival out of every inch of a tree, but it’s probably much less romantic than that. I enjoy making sculptures out of wood simply because it’s intuitive and malleable. I am able to create nuanced forms that come directly into reality much more quickly than when I work with stone or metal. The route of an inspiration seems to flow with more ease from my head, through my hands and into the medium when dealing with wood.

The piece “Wishbone” comes from a long line of related works. I began creating them as self-portraits portraying me as a loose wishbone form that expressed a desire to return to a time before this time. It is a pretty romanticized concept, but pretty straightforward as well.

These forms are not self-portraits anymore, but they can be very figurative, sometimes totemic, and always very subjective. They appear to me to be warm figures or even moments of memory or of some kind of transcendent moment that is private by accident, almost beyond temporary but exhibiting a plodding grace. Another medium would change the transmission entirely; the wood makes it real and warm and somehow more human.

– Daniel Franke

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Voices of the Delta: John Lasater

Author: Maria DavisonFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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John Lasater, The Last Judgement, 2017, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

I make simple visual statements with my artwork, regardless of the subject matter. Simplicity is peaceful, and reinforces the blessing of our existence. Through the medium of oil paint, I have a language for my gratitude.

– John Lasater

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Voices of the Delta: Neal Harrington

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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Neal Harrington, Favorite Daughter and Rival Sons Diptych, 2017, woodcut with India ink wash, 24 x 48 inches

Printmaking, in particular relief, is my primary means of exploration in the visual arts. The content of my work fuses the rich tradition of Greek/Roman mythologies with an American Roots Music perspective. These visual ballads sing out in their symbolism, narrative, and energetic atmospheres. My work balances a multifaceted investigation of independence and mystical narratives. The bold and graphic marks of the woodcut/relief technique reiterate the tension and energy of the figures in these works. In my Bootlegger series, I create an intensified atmosphere and an amplified dramatic sense of light with the addition of India ink washes. The shades of gray either softens the focus or strengthens the focal point and contributes to the dreamlike quality of the story.

– Neal Harrington

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Voices of the Delta: John Allison

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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John Allison, Diptych – Bike Ride South, 2018, oil, cold wax and mixed media, 60 x 96 x 2 inches

As a painter, I find inspiration in all that I see all of the time. Chartreuse moss on a wet sidewalk, a stripped bare concrete floor, tangled geometry and colors as I ride my bike across a bridge, the memory of a dream with an unimagined color combination.

Yet, the act of painting is another reality. Interacting with the medium, the mark, the mistake on the surface draws me into and away from my visions. It happens in the moment and is not unlike a trance.

Striving for sense of order in the end, I allow myself to begin with chaotic gestures. There’s a set of rules, but only to be broken. I want colors to challenge: to fight, confuse and seduce. Always texture and glimpses of what went before with marks both precise and brash.

I strive for work that speaks a private truth to each viewer.

– John Allison

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Voices of the Delta: Hannah Moll

Author: Maria DavisonFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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Hannah Moll, Agricultural Horizon, 2017, laser etching and acrylic on panel, 36 x 32 inches

Moving paint across the canvas and soil across the earth –both are part of an additive and subtractive process. This movement cultivates a future for new growth. When paint glides across the canvas, transparency gives way to underlying information- color, texture, and form. It is a generative process layering data, giving way to a new interpretation. Painting naturally lends itself to an experiential, ephemeral, and phenomenological approach to analysis based on these properties. As a landscape designer, painting enriches and enhances site analysis providing a way to discover and analyze both quantitative and qualitative information.

Painting is a powerful tool that has the ability to cross objective and subjective boundaries. It breathes the life of a captured moment into the present. My responsibility is to capture and recreate these meaningful moments. Each of my paintings of the Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center tells a new story- sometimes untold, hidden, or an obscure part of daily life. This land speaks its own language through hydrology, geology, and ecology; it is a dialect interpreted by the people who cultivate the land and a conversation that continues to evolve each season. When viewing my paintings, each observer experiences the landscape through a lens of research, analysis, and brushstrokes unique to my own conversation.

– Hannah Moll

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Voices of the Delta: Marc Mitchell

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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Marc Mitchell, MKC, 2017, acrylic on custom shaped panels, 46 x 50 inches

I am influenced by many things – vintage punk rock, VHS tapes, internet blogs, WWI battle ships, beat-up amps, and custom guitars all play a role in the development of my paintings and digital prints.

For the past four years, the notion of ‘cycle’ has played an increasing role within my studio practice. During this time, I became interested in how avant-garde movements succeed and fail within popular culture. Most recently, I have been focusing on two trends: ‘Dazzle Ships’ and ‘New Old Stock’ to shape visual imagery.

– Marc Mitchell

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Voices of the Delta: Donna Pinckley

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 60, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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For over 30 years I have photographed a particular social and cultural group of children. Before my eyes and in front of my camera they have passed through adolescence into young adulthood. My goal throughout has been to portray not how the world sees them, but how they see themselves.

I began by working with one child at a time, but as my subjects have grown up and matured, people and relationships have replaced toys and skateboards, both in their lives and in my photographs—siblings and friends, casual acquaintances, and mostly recently, romantic partners.

The Sticks and Stones photography series began with an image of one of my frequent subjects and her African-American boyfriend. Her mother and I were catching up when she told me of the cruel taunts hurled at her daughter for dating a boy of another race. As she was speaking, I was reminded of another couple many years ago, who had been the object of similar racial slurs. What struck me was the resilience of both couples in the face of derision, their refusal to let others define them.

Three years ago, I began photographing interracial couples of all ages, aiming as always to capture how they see themselves, the world of love and trust they have created despite adversity. In their own handwriting, I added the negative comments they have been subjected to at the bottom of the images as a reminder of how part of society sees them.

– Donna Pinckley

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