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Ozarks to host female art collective exhibit, panel discussion

January 20, 2015
By cnp
Posted in Art

University of the Ozarks will host a month-long exhibit as well as a panel discussion from some of the top female artists in the state in the Show & Tell Art Collective from Jan. 21 through Feb. 13 as part of the University's Artist of the Month Series.

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Show & Tell is a feminist art collective made up of eight artists from throughout Arkansas. All of the women in the collective are also educators at colleges and universities in the state or directors of art organizations. Each artist utilizes different media and has a different approach to making artwork, but the women are united in their support for one another during monthly group critiques and discussions over potluck dinners.

The collective includes U of O art professors Tammy Harrington and Dawn Holder as well as Melissa Cowper-Smith, Paige Dirksen, Melissa Gill, Holly Laws, Sandra Luckett and Morgan Page.

The exhibit will be on display in the Stephens Gallery, located in the Walton Fine Arts Center, until Feb. 13. There will be a reception to meet the artists from 5-6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, in the gallery. Following the reception, there will be a panel discussion from 6:30-8 p.m., in the Rogers Conference Center  to discuss the Show & Tell Art Collective, how the group came about, and the importance of creating and maintaining artistic connections in life.

The exhibit, reception and panel discussion are all are free and open to the public.

Cowper-Smith, who moved to Central Arkansas from New York City in 2011, founded Show & Tell in 2013. In New York she was a founding member of tART, a group dedicated to supporting women artists through critiques, exhibitions, publications, and networking opportunities. After moving to Arkansas, she discovered an enthusiastic interest in developing a new art collective in her new home state. The Show & Tell Art Collective holds monthly critiques where one artist shares her work and receives constructive feedback from the group. In addition to fostering one another’s creative work, the collective provides members with exhibition and networking opportunities.

"I learned from tART that when women critique work with only other women, the atmosphere remains supportive and empowering," Cowper-Smith said. "Although my reasons for starting a group in Arkansas were driven by my own need for art-talk, ultimately it was the conversations I had with Sandra Luckett and Melissa Gill that convinced me that there was a need for such a group here. In our new collective, we strive for critiques that are honest, intense, and thoughtful. We don’t shy away from ideas that may hurt the artist’s feelings. We want the artist sharing their work to continue to make their work. We want their work to be stronger in line with what they have made and what they want to make. I am eager for the ideas that will come to me while other women talk about my work."

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University of the Ozarks art professors Dawn Holder (left) and Tammy Harrington are members of the Show & Tell Art Collective, which will present an exhibit and panel discussion at Ozarks.

Harrington, who has taught at Ozarks since 2002, said Show & Tell has helped build relationships among artists in the state.

"There are so many fantastic artists in Arkansas, but they are so spread apart," she said. "This group is a great way for some of us to meet in a social setting while still engaging in critical art discussions of each other’s work. Friendship and connections are important to maintain in an artistic professional life. I am so glad that this is one of the ways that I can discuss art and artmaking."

Holder said the collective helps "feed both my creative and intellectual growth."

"Our critique meetings offer the opportunity to slow down and think deeply about each other’s work," Holder said. "The conversations are stimulating, thoughtful, and incredibly helpful. The honest feedback helps us push out of our comfort zones and look at our work from new perspectives.  Living in the small community of Clarksville has been challenging, and being a part of Show & Tell helps me feel connected to community of like-minded individuals.  Lastly, there is still a great disparity in the art world between the amount of exposure and exhibitions given to male versus female artists.  I am excited to be part of group of female artists actively pursuing the creation and exhibition of their work.  Working together, we are able to create and share opportunities to get our work out into the world."

Dirksen is an artist and art therapist from Bellevue, Iowa, who relocated to Batesville, Ark., in 2011. She is currently the executive director at the Batesville Area Arts Council and is a licensed associate counselor in Arkansas. Dirksen earned an M.A. in art therapy counseling from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2011 and her bachelor’s degree in studio arts: printmaking from University of Northern Iowa in 2009.  As an art therapist, most of Dirksen’s artwork has been a response to the clients she has worked with, and demonstrates the use of visual form to process these psychological concepts. Images from her own relationships and past experiences are also explored in her artwork.

A native of Canada, Cowper-Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Victoria in British Columbia before moving to New York City to complete an M.F.A. at Hunter College. In 2001 she received the Helen Pitt Award (Vancouver Foundation) and in 2005 she was awarded the Carolyn David Horowitz Fund (Hunter College).  She teaches digital art and drawing at Hendrix College, and is developing farm shares to feed local families through Wildland Gardens. Cowper-Smith uses digital collage, printmaking, paper collage, and digital animation to juxtapose and blend imagery originating in painting, drawing, and photography. She is interested in modes and processes of representation and expressions of memory and forgetting. She represent objects, interior domestic spaces, and rural landscapes. 

Gill, an associate professor of drawing and printmaking at Hendrix College, is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice includes intaglio, lithography, serigraphy, relief, mixed media, drawing, collage, embroidery, artist books, and installation. Drawing her inspiration from ritual patterns and practices found in Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist religions, Gill’s work describes an intimate spiritualism, conflating the search for a deep connection to self with the act of art making. She holds an M.F.A. from Indiana University at Bloomington, an M.A. from Purdue University, and a bachelor’s degree from University of Arizona.

Harrington was born in Sioux Falls, S.D., and currently resides in Russellville, Ark. She received a B.F.A. in printmaking from the University of South Dakota and an M.F.A. in printmaking from Wichita State University. She has exhibited artwork throughout the region and nationally and is represented by Gallery 26 in Little Rock. In her art, Harrington explores the impact cross-cultural influences (Chinese and American) have had upon her development and growth. She uses symbolic color, pattern and iconography to represent the two cultures. Her work uses this combination of figure, color, pattern and the mix of real and flattened space. 

Holder, an assistant professor of art at Ozarks, creates ceramic sculptures and multimedia installations.  Prior to moving to Arkansas, she was a year-long resident at Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana, and then was an adjunct faculty member and ceramics technician at The University of Hartford in Connecticut.  Her recent solo exhibitions include Always Greener at Arkansas Tech University and Monoculture at MotherDog Studios in Houston.  She recently won first place in the 66th River Valley Invitational at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, and will present a solo exhibition there in 2015. She received an M.F.A. in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design and a bachelor’s degree in ceramics from the University of Georgia.

Laws, who lives in Mayflower, Ark., and teaches at University of Central Arkansas, holds a bachelor’s degree in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.F.A. in sculpture from Tyler School of Art at Temple University.  She is interested in a multidisciplinary approach to art. Her first love, sculpture, draws heavily on her work in theatre, performance and puppetry. Laws’ work ranges from intricately detailed miniature fragments of the human form as well as tiny reproductions of shoes and clothing, to immersive installations incorporating hundreds of objects, projected video, and recorded dialogue.

Luckett, native of California, is a professor at University of Central Arkansas. She earned her M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University. Luckett will showcase a series of photos that she calls "Sexy Puddles." "This series began by exploring the beauty of delicate lingerie in water," Luckett said. "I aimed to create a sense of mystery, atmosphere and sensuality. Once the photos were developed, I began to see possible implications; the most significant being a woman’s relationship to her body and the garments she chooses to wear and why."

Page is an artist, designer, and professor in Batesville, where she teaches at Lyon College. She received her M.F.A. from Rutgers University in New Jersey and her B.F.A. from University of Houston. In her series, "Pedestrian Narratives," Page said she "carefully selected images from a huge collection of negatives taken on walks throughout large American cities and Central Italy. Placing these sites next to each other allows for new relationships and histories to surface."