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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Voices of the Delta: Charles Henry James

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

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Charles Henry James, Loitering, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

I was born in upstate New York. My artistic roots are in the East Village New York City scene of the 1980s. I mingled with the great and the obscure, and found a wealth of riches in all corners. I have worked with David Salle, Karole Armitage, Robert Longo, and Gretchen Bender. My work has shown in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and here in Arkansas. Little Rock is my home since 1990.

My brain is a whirlwind of ideas, images, worries, and fantasies. This internal kaleidoscope can be a rather frightening, unstoppable force. My work acts as a safety valve, generating fixed responses to the chaos. The ingredients that go into my work include ontology, existentialism, Buddhism, horror and sci-fi films, comics, psychedelics, and humor. Add a healthy disdain for corporatist culture and you have a good idea where my art is coming from. The work distills what I hope is a credible and potent artistic extract.

– Charles Henry James

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Voices of the Delta: Marjorie Williams-Smith

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

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Marjorie Williams-Smith, The Messengers, 2018, copperpoint, aluminumpoint, silverpoint, Conte crayon, and graphite pencil on black acrylic gesso, 30 x 22 inches

I have worked with silverpoint for more than 30 years. The fine line of silverpoint and the ethereal qualities of the metal have captured my focus. These attributes lend themselves well to the natural forms that I draw. My drawings depict a focus on spirituality and strength. The drawing titled The Messengers showcases flowers used as my vehicle for expression.

– Marjorie Williams-Smith

Williams-Smith’s work is also featured in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection.

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Voices of the Delta: Aj Smith

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

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Aj Smith, Faces of the Delta: Geraldine, 2012–2016, graphite pencil, 46 x 36 inches

The Faces of the Delta Series consists of several silverpoint and large-scale graphite pencil drawings to portray individuals living in relatively remote isolated communities of the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta. This series of drawings celebrate the gift of honesty and majestic ordinariness, even when faced with political, economic, and social deprivation.

– Aj Smith

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Voices of the Delta: Cynthia Kresse

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

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Cynthia Kresse, Kresse at Full Moon, Easter, 2016, pastel on paper, 25 x 37 inches

I am fascinated by what is hidden in the shadows and exposed by the light. I explore the qualities of natural and artificial light, and juxtapose them within my pastel images. In my artwork, the light and darkness is applied in endless color variations, always looking for a vibrancy between them. I want to show that ordinary moments can be extraordinary, when light and shadows work their effect. The figures, interiors, and landscapes around us can provide subtlety and mystery.

Technically, I work on a thin print paper that gets a bit of texture as I rub layer after layer of color onto it with my fingers and hands. No brushes or tools are used and no pre-drawing is underneath, so there is a freedom as I work directly on the paper with my fingertips, and let an image emerge. The result is a completely unique use of pastels.  And the effect is what I prefer, soft and ill-defined. It represents what I find compelling, that which is not completely accessible.

– Cynthia Kresse

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Voices of the Delta: Loren Bartnicke

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

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Loren Bartnicke, Touchy Feely, 2016, acrylic, oil, glitter, and cactus spines on canvas over wooden panel, 62 x 72 x 2 inches

Though viewers can engage with my work visually, their other senses may be triggered as well. The hot reds and prickly textures suggest sharpness and burning. Cloud-like swells of delicate pink paint suggest a sweet taste. Big globs of gestural paint next to small repeated marks imply motion and possibly a sound both loud and lulling. The over-sensuousness of the work invites us to pay attention. Becoming aware of our senses and desires is part of the transformative experience. The physicality of the work mirrors that of our own bodies, yet the whimsical imagery and colors point to something more ethereal. Earthy browns and neutral colors are tied to gravity,  sagging over time. They are the colors of the ground we walk on. Conversely, intense fluorescent colors are tied to the new . They are otherworldly, transcendent of gravity. This transcendence is essential if something that falls should ever rise again.

– Loren Bartnicke

Learn more about Bartnicke’s work here.

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Voices of the Delta: Pokley Alrutz

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

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Pokey Alrutz, 3 in 1, 2016, collage, 14 x 32 inches

Even though I have had full time jobs until I retired in 2011, art has always been a major part of my life.  I express myself visually far more than with any other sense.

While I have had some formal training as an Art major in college, my creative development has been the result of constant activity across many genres.

My artistic endeavors grew from simple line drawings that were filled with abstract forms to colorful paintings on canvas, fabric art and tapestries, and more recently to collage.  When I began doing collage after retirement, it was like starting over but I already had a good sense of design, color, and composition to work with.  My earlier collages were two dimensional and elementary yet fun. With practice I began to make collages as I would make a painting.  My final compositions have been described as seamless, unique, and often of worlds that don’t exist – my friends like to call them “Pokey’s world”.

Art has always taken me to a place that is beautiful, unique, and intriguing.  My work often tells a story that can be viewed differently by each person and I love to learn what they see.

I have tremendous respect and interest in a broad spectrum of artists from many different styles and periods.  In my own small way I am happy to be a part of that community.

– Pokey Alrutz

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Voices of the Delta: Steven Barker

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

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Steven Barker, Not of One Mind, 2017, black watercolor on Bristol paper, 70 1/2 x 31 inches

My drawings and watercolors use animals and items from nature as subtle anecdotes on aspects of life. Isolating them on the white of the paper removes location, time, and context, allowing the viewer to bring their own field of reference when interacting with the image. Often there is a duality that creates a tension within my pieces – some are large but very intricate or I make use of loaded imagery, inviting an intimate examination. The right metaphor tells its own story.

– Steven Barker

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