Works from the Arkansas Arts Center’s exceptional collection of contemporary craft objects are on view at 15 Central Arkansas Library System Locations. Carefully selected for their community relevance, each installation includes works that reference the environment, history and mission of the library branch where they’re located, illustrating the incredible diversity of the Arts Center’s craft collection.
This partnership between between the Arkansas Arts Center and the Central Arkansas Library System is designed to build long-term creative connections between the two Central Arkansas cultural organizations.
“Between one and three percent of a museum’s collection is on view at any given time,” said Brian J. Lang, Chief Curator and Windgate Foundation Curator of Contemporary Craft. “This partnership with CALS allows us to display nearly 10 percent of our 1,500-object craft collection.”
What is Contemporary Craft?
Have you ever wondered what we mean when we talk about contemporary craft? The word “craft” historically refers to objects made from traditional materials – ceramic, glass, fiber, metal, and wood – including both functional wares and sculptural objects. Whatever their use, all of these objects invite us to consider texture, form, function as well as the role of the maker and the processes used to create the object. The Arts Center’s contemporary craft collection, in particular, focuses on works that represent exemplary craftsmanship or a unique approach to materials.
At Main Library in downtown Little Rock, visitors will find large-scale ceramic sculptures installed throughout the building, principally in elevator lobby areas and on the main floor.
At Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art, two sculptures from Wendy Maruyama’s The Tag Project honor Japanese Americans sent to Arkansas internment camps during World War II. The works, titled Rohwer (The Tag Project) and Jerome (The Tag Project), are part of a series of works representing each of the ten American internment camps. The sculptures are made of tea- and coffee-stained reproduction tags, each bearing the name and unique number of people interned at Rohwer and Jerome in Arkansas.
A selection of whimsical toys from past Toys Designed by Artists exhibitions is on view at Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center. At the base of the grand stair, visitors will also find Judy Onofrio’s Just Pretending. Fondly known as “The Mermaid,” Onofrio’s found-object assemblage sculpture is a favorite of Arts Center visitors.
Named after the noted women’s rights and integration advocate, Adolphine Fletcher Terry Library features a selection of ceramics made by significant women artists, including Anne Hirondelle, Betty Woodman, Karen Karnes, Laurie Spencer, and Rosemary Fisher.
At Amy Sanders Library in Sherwood, a selection of basketry and fiber works made from repurposed or recycled materials will complement the library’s active STEM education program.
To complement Roosevelt Thompson Library’s robust menu of culinary-themed events (including programs focused on tea), “Teapots at Thompson” features nearly 25 craft teapots in a variety of media.
Surrounded by forest, “A Woodland DEE-Light” at Dee Brown Library features an installation of works made from wood, containing references to wood, as well as ceramics made in wood-fired kilns. Margaret Keelan’s Young Girl with Moths, a ceramic work made to look as if it is carved from wood will be on view at Dee Brown.
At Max Milam Library, located in Perryville’s rich agricultural community, an installation of works in metal is inspired by the weathered metal machinery dotting the rural landscape.
Inspired by the building’s sleek contemporary concrete-and-glass design, the installation at Sid McMath Library features a selection of notable works in glass spanning a century of American studio glass production. Works on view include George Thiewes’ Oval Form, and several examples by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
At the Esther DeWitt Nixon Library, which serves Jacksonville and the Little Rock Air Force Base, visitors will find artwork inspired by the military experience and aviation. Terry Lee Dill’s Homage to J. Smith – World War I Tank depicts an abstracted tank in cast iron and bronze and Larry Page’s Captain Sky Teapot shows a pilot at the helm of an airplane.
Named for Pulitzer-Prize winning author, John Gould Fletcher Library will host a selection of works that celebrate and illustrate the power of language and the written word. The installation includes Jack Earl’s whimsical ceramic dog wearing glasses that spell D-0-G.
Maumelle Library, located adjacent to Lake Valencia, features an installation titled “Gone Fishin’,” which includes several works with a boating and fishing theme. Among them are Katie Hudnall’s Monster Fishing Kit in wood, metal and glass, and Bill Griffith’s stoneware Boat Form.
At Wrightsville’s Millie Brooks Library, an installation of works made from pine and other natural materials echoes the tall stands of pine trees that surround the building. The installation features a basket made from white oak, coralberry, and waxed linen thread by Arkansas Living Treasure Leon Niehues; a coiled pine needle basket by Neil Prince; and a wall sculpture made from coconut fibers by Romanian artist Ritzi Jacobi.
The Sue Cowan Williams Library, located near Dunbar Garden, will feature garden-themed works. The ceramics on view include floral imagery, fruits, vegetables, birds, and bees, all celebrating the natural abundance of the Earth. Farraday Newsome’s ceramic vases depict garden themes, and Jesse Small’s Flower Ghosts each explore a different floral pattern.
Fitting beautifully into Oley E. Rooker Library’s soaring, light-filled reading room is a monumental ceramic sculpture, Coupling by American artist Patti Warashina.
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