Amid a pandemic, Arkansas Arts Center works to amplify art

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Children's Theatre, Collection, Community, Delta 62, Delta Exhibition, Education, Exhibitions, Museum, Museum School, Uncategorized

The center is keeping its community connected to the arts through a swift pivot to digital initiatives

Shortly after closures swept through the country – and hit Little Rock – in mid-March due to Covid-19, the Arkansas Arts Center swiftly adjusted all their plans in an effort to keep the community connected to the arts. While the Arkansas Arts Center’s in-person programs are postponed, the center is offering creative and engaging arts experiences where many Central Arkansas residents are now spending the majority of their time – online.

“Arkansas Arts Center Amplified” began as a Facebook group to feature artist demonstrations, highlights of artworks from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection, Children’s Theatre performances and episodes of “Our Work Continues,” an original web series developed by the center. Within a few weeks, more than 1,000 people joined the group, and “Arkansas Arts Center Amplified” expanded into an innovative slate of online programming.

As part of Arkansas Arts Center Amplified, the 59th Young Arkansas Artists and the 62nd Annual Delta – two of the Arts Center’s popular exhibitions – will move to an online format, expanding the exhibitions’ in new and exciting ways. Across the state, Arkansans can experience the talent and creativity of these Young Arkansas Artists from their homes. Moving the Delta Exhibition online offers regional artists an international platform to showcase their work.

Art instructors designed Museum School classes to be taught via Zoom, and class offerings include ceramics, painting, drawing, color theory, sculpture and the business or art along with theatre classes for both youth and adults. More than 200 students are currently enrolled in online classes, including students joining the class from out of state.

Museum School ceramics instructors plan a new course designed specifically for Zoom.

“The Arkansas Arts Center exists to connect our community with art and creativity. We are continuing to fulfill that mission despite these challenging circumstances,” Executive Director Victoria Ramirez said. “In any museum or cultural organization, staff make the magic happen. The Arts Center’s staff is incredibly talented, and during quarantine, our employees, artists, and instructors have done some of the most impressive work I have seen in my 25-year museum career.”

Through “Arkansas Arts Center Amplified,” the Arts Center will continue to offer engaging arts experiences online while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local public health authorities recommend social distancing.

In the “Amplified” Facebook group, Museum School instructors have filmed videos from their homes offering step-by-step art projects, prompts and artist demonstrations, and hashtags are being used by museums across the country and the world offer opportunities to share art. #MuseumMomentsofZen focuses on calming artworks and #MuseumfromHome offers an opportunity to share favorite Arkansas Arts Center Collection works.

The digital Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition will be on view beginning May 9. Each year, art teachers and instructors throughout Arkansas submit their students’ work, and a panel of art professionals selects works to be included in the exhibition. The Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition showcases artwork from kindergarten through high school in a wide range of mediums and techniques – from crayon and pastel to collage and sculpture. The exhibition’s new digital format offers increased accessibility to the exhibition – both to families and students as well as educators as classroom instruction moves online for the foreseeable future.

Sage Holoch, Tiger Tales, Oil Pastel and Tempera, 18 x 12 inches, 2nd Grade, Indian Hills Elementary

The digital 62nd Annual Delta Exhibition, organized in collaboration with Historic Arkansas Museum, Thea Foundation, ACANSA Gallery and the Argenta Branch of the William F. Laman Library, will be available beginning June 19. Like Young Arkansas Artists, this digital format for Delta also offers increased accessibility to an exhibition that represents the entire Mississippi Delta region. As one of the longest-running and most prestigious juried art exhibitions in the region, the Annual Delta Exhibition represents the Arts Center’s commitment to artists living and working in our community today – and to continuing to grow artistic talent in the region.

Leah Grant, Notice, 2019, cyanotype and screenprint, 30 x 22 inches

Showcasing artists born in or living in Arkansas and its border states, the Annual Delta Exhibition presents a vision of contemporary art in the American South. Founded in 1958, the exhibition provides a unique snapshot of the Delta region and features work in all media. The exhibition reflects the region’s strong traditions of craftsmanship and observation, combined with an innovative use of materials and an experimental approach to subject matter.

The Arkansas Arts Center’s Riverdale location remains closed while City of Little Rock and public health officials continue to recommend social distancing. More about future programming – both digital and in-person – will be available at arkansasartscenter.org.

Arkansas Arts Center Amplified education and engagement programs are supported by Nucor Divisions – Arkansas and the Schmieding Foundation. 

Young Arkansas Artists is supported by Isabel and John Ed Anthony; Ces and Drew Kelso; JC Thompson Trust; Trinity Foundation; Barbara House; Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.; Dale and Lee Ronnel; and Pat Wilson. Awards are supported by Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Mid-Southern Watercolorists.

The 62nd Annual Delta Exhibition is supported by Mrs. Lisenne Rockefeller; Terri and Chuck Erwin; Judy Fletcher, In Memory of John R. Fletcher; Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP; JC Thompson Trust; Dianne and Bobby Tucker; AAC Contemporaries; Bank OZK; Phyllis and Michael Barrier; East Harding Construction; Marion W. Fulk; Barbara House; Don Tilton; and the Andre Simon Memorial Trust in memory of everyone who has died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The Grand Award is supported by The John William Linn Endowment Fund.

The Museum School is supported by The Dorothea Lawrence Gilbert Fund for Art Enrichment and Outreach and LaRand Thomas.

Arkansas Arts Center programs are also supported in part by: Arkansas Arts Center Foundation; Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees; City of Little Rock; City of North Little Rock; Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau; and the Arkansas Arts Council, a division of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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