Jim Henson Grant Awarded to Children’s Theatre Director

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Children's TheatreLeave a Comment

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Katie Campbell

Katie Campbell, Company Actor/Director at the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre, has received a grant from the Jim Henson Foundation to produce The Ugly Duckling, a reimagining of the classic fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. The $3,000 grant will provide funds for the production of original music for the play, which will have its world premiere at the Children’s Theatre as part of the 2015 – 2016 season.

After seeing a collection of paper cuttings done by Hans Christian Andersen while telling his stories, Katie was inspired to tell the story of the personal transformation of a young girl through shadow puppetry. The Ugly Duckling is done entirely in shadow with two overhead projectors, three actor/puppeteers, and more than sixty puppets. The show has already been on tour with The North Carolina Theatre for Young People and as part of the Theatre for Young People series at the Shake on the Lake festival in upstate New York.

The project was created as a thesis production in 2013. Katie has an MFA in Theatre for Youth with an emphasis on Directing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is acting as producer and fiscal sponsor for the grant.

The Ugly Duckling

Created and directed by
Katie Campbell

Music by
Jessica Drake Mosher

Performance Dates
August 28 – 30, September 4 – 6
Fridays at 7 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.

Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre

The Ugly DucklingThe Ugly DucklingThe Jim Henson Foundation

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30 Americans: John Bankston

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: ExhibitionsLeave a Comment

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29 Days to 30 Americans 

(born 1963)

The visual and narrative language of coloring books fuels much of the fantastical sensibilities of John Bankston’s oil, acrylic, ceramic, watercolor, and sculpture works. Curator Daniell Cornell, who organized Bankston’s 2006 exhibition Locating Desire at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, expressed how Bankston juggles the art of painting and drawing, representation and abstraction, to transport viewers in a world of childlike reveries. The adventure voyages, science fiction, and fairy tales he relates in his work simultaneously touch upon themes of race, gender roles, masculinity, and sexuality.

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


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

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30 Americans: Nina Chanel Abney

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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

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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


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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