30 Americans: Nina Chanel Abney

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: ExhibitionsLeave a Comment

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30 Days to 30 Americans

(born 1982)

In the November 2008 issue of W Magazine, a twenty-six-year-old Nina Chanel Abney explained to Haven Thompson how celebrity scandals inspire some of her vibrant, often brazen paintings that at once suggest Francis Bacon, David Hockney, and contemporary street murals. “I’m fascinated by how celebrity news has become not more interesting, but more important than politics. I like to infuse that with race issues,” Abney said, referring to her 2007 solo debut show, Dirty Wash, at New York’s Kravets/Wehby Gallery.

Learn more about the 30 Americans exhibition at http://arkansasartscenter.org/30-Americans.

To view Abney’s work visit http://www.ninachanel.com/.

photo: Milwaukee Art Museum, http://mam.org/

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Ashley Morrison’s Humble Hum

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Museum SchoolLeave a Comment

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Ashley Morrison

Arkansas Arts Center Resident Artist Ashley Morrison seeks to balance the functional and decorative in her work, and draws inspiration from everyday traditional objects as well as the Art Nouveau movement that sought to raise the status of craft.

When asked about her choice of color in her work, she says, “I’m drawn to natural tones, like the color of clay itself. You get different sounds from colors, a snowy day or cherry blossoms, those are calm, earthy, and phenomenal tones that inspire my work.”

Patrons of the Arts Center will be able to see Ashley’s work up close in the exhibition A Humble Hum: Rhythm of the Potter’s Wheel, on view in the Museum School Gallery through June 21, 2015.

Ashley was pursuing a degree in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute when she took a course in ceramics. She then changed her major and completed a BFA in ceramics at Kansas City Art Institute. She arrived at the Arkansas Arts Center in September of this year as a teaching artist in ceramics.

“I like to explore, and I also like to experiment with more than one approach to how I make my work. There are a million ways to approach clay; it’s endless, so I like to teach a variety of methods, because every student that goes along with the task of working with clay varies.”

When asked what skills someone would need to take a pottery class at the Arts Center, Ashley laughs, “You need to have a lot of patience, a curiosity about the material, and no shame for failure. There is a logic and a science to it, like cooking. Sometimes I think potters are like really great cooks.”

 See more of Ashley’s work at http://cargocollective.com/ashleymorrison.

Artist Statement

There is a timelessness surrounding clay and its utility. I am intrigued by how this material represents our past, and how its content evolves and changes between each generation through its analogy and context. For me, as an artist who uses clay, I am drawn to the structure, labor, and discipline it takes to work with clay. While my work does not focus on my ethnicity, there is an unconscious expression of how I view a variety of past and present cultures, including Islamic, Song, and Koryo Dynasty ceramics. I am also influenced by the design and philosophy of Art Nouveau. At my best, I attempt to create uniquely unfamiliar functional ware, which evokes a sense of mystery, while simultaneously exploring issues of ornamentation and beauty. I find pleasure in altering traditional objects and distorting ideas of function to suit my own aesthetic sensibility.

Ashley MorrisonAshley MorrisonAshley Morrison

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Letter from the Director

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: GeneralLeave a Comment

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A Note from Todd

There are big events happening at the Arts Center this Spring! The Arts Center’s biennial fundraiser, Tabriz, is this week—March 12 & 14. Tabriz chair Del Boyette and co-chairs Sara Batcheller and Millie Ward have organized a celebration that highlights the history of Tabriz and introduces new ideas to keep this premiere event fresh and exciting. Thursday night’s Bazaar of Tabriz is casual and fun with some of the best silent auction items in town. The black-tie Gala of Tabriz on Saturday night is an evening that celebrates the arts, the Arkansas Arts Center, and our renowned collection. A successful fundraiser helps us keep the programs you love going. It’s not too late to purchase your ticket and join in the fun!

Following Tabriz, the Arts Center is very proud to host 30 Americans, which opens to members April 9. This exhibition, drawn from the expansive Rubell Family Collection, features 30 of the most influential contemporary African-American artists including Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Carrie Mae Weems, Barkley Hendricks, Nick Cave, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The works are large, direct, forceful, and inescapable. This is an exhibition that ticks all the boxes in the Arts Center’s mission: the work is high-quality and educational, it presents diverse viewpoints, promotes discussion, and highlights art’s ability to safely address difficult issues. Art is a dialogue. I hope that you will visit this exhibition often, and encourage friends to engage in this dialogue as well.


photo: Brian Chilson

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Education and cultural literacy are essential elements in the continued growth and development of society. I have been a long-time advocate of turning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) into STEAM (just add ART!). And now, the venerable icon of children’s education, Sesame Street, has jumped on the STEAM train writing on their website that STEAM-based education “highlights the underlying scientific process skills; observing and questioning, investigating, analyzing and reporting, and reflecting on the ‘big idea’. These skills enable children to formulate thoughts into questions, solve problems, and allow for the learning of new concepts and ‘big ideas’ to become apparent and meaningful. It also helps make the connection between scientific (“Let’s find out.”) and innovative (“What if?”) thinking to clearly demonstrate that the arts can be used to inspire learning and teach STEM concepts.” This is exactly the kind of multi-layered educational experience the Arts Center has offered for decades.

In addition to our Children’s Theatre performances, art classes in the Museum School, and diverse exhibitions, I encourage you to add art to your children’s education by enrolling them in our Spring Break youth programs, Junior Arts Academy, and Summer Theater Academy. It pays off!

Todd A. Herman, Ph.D.
Executive Director

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