King Foundation Grant to Expand ASC's Makerspace Theatre Program

 Students in the Arts & Science Center’s shadow puppet program shared the product of their work with family and friends May 23 during Family & Community Night at ASC. The evening was a culmination of a 12-week after-school theater program with students from the Boys & Girls Club. The program was facilitated by Leonor Colbert (above), ASC Public Program Coordinator, and Lindsey Collins, director for "Sister Act," ASC's summer musical. The King Foundation grant will help to support ASC's youth theatre-immersion program.

Students in the Arts & Science Center’s shadow puppet program shared the product of their work with family and friends May 23 during Family & Community Night at ASC. The evening was a culmination of a 12-week after-school theater program with students from the Boys & Girls Club. The program was facilitated by Leonor Colbert (above), ASC Public Program Coordinator, and Lindsey Collins, director for "Sister Act," ASC's summer musical. The King Foundation grant will help to support ASC's youth theatre-immersion program.

King-Foundation logo.jpg

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas has received a grant of $35,000 from the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation in support of ASC's expanded youth theatre-immersion program, "The Stage," ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller announced June 13. "The Stage" is a makerspace for innovation and creativity through theatre.

 students in The Boys & Girls club get ready to show off their shadow puppetry for family and friends at ASC on May 23.

students in The Boys & Girls club get ready to show off their shadow puppetry for family and friends at ASC on May 23.

Building upon ASC’s established STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math) programming foundation, “The Stage” takes a holistic approach to theatre by engaging students in all aspects of theatre: directing, acting, playwriting, scenery construction, costume design, light and sound design, stage management, playbill design, and marketing and promotion of productions. All components are considered STEAM learning. By incorporating technology, students will learn coding and circuitry for scenery special effects, audio and film for documenting, and basic graphic design — all which ASC already provides through our programs.

Involving youth in community arts programs provides opportunity to cultivate civic engagement, which benefits the community at large; develop practical and personal skills considered instrumental in academic and career success, such as creative thinking, self-confidence, identity building, problem solving, collaboration, communication skills, and valuing constructive feedback, and ensures access to the arts for youth from low-income families who don’t possess the means to participate in programs in arts-resource rich regions of Arkansas.

ASC leverages funding from local and state grants, sponsorships, and foundations to provide half and full scholarships for “The Stage” summer program for ages 7-17. The all-day, month-long camp kicked off Monday, June 18, and culminates in an all-youth production of “It’s Not Ugly ... It’s Art!” on Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14.

In addition to the summer program, “The Stage” offers professional development workshops, internships, and free after-school theatre programming. This spring, Leonor Colbert, ASC Public Program Coordinator, and Lindsey Collins, director of ASC's summer musical production of "Sister Act," led the Boys & Girls Club 12-week shadow puppet program.

The King Foundation grant will assist the growth of ASC’s scope of community outreach through “The Stage” project. Starting this fall, programming will include an in-school component, a “digital” tool box for educators, and regional outreach.

ASC is immensely grateful for the King Foundation's support of our endeavors to provide access to the arts for everyone.

About the King Foundation

Carl B. and Florence E. King started the foundation that bears their names in 1966. Since then, the King Foundation has distributed more than $64 million to agencies operating in Texas and Arkansas while maintaining the legacies created by Carl “Big Jim” and Florence “Meemaw” King and their daughter, Dorothy.

PBHS Artists Shine In Annual Exhibit

 Justin Thomasson’s self-portrait, “Ikicki No Uta,” is one of the eye-catching works in this year's show.

Justin Thomasson’s self-portrait, “Ikicki No Uta,” is one of the eye-catching works in this year's show.

 Ashia Shelton, who will be a senior this fall at PBHS, stands next to her painting "Stranger Fruit." She has two other works in this year's show.

Ashia Shelton, who will be a senior this fall at PBHS, stands next to her painting "Stranger Fruit." She has two other works in this year's show.

Sixteen young artists are featured in the Arts & Science Center’s 2018 Pine Bluff High School Annual Art Exhibit, on display in ASC's Simmons Gallery.

The exhibit comprises 20 works, in mediums such as pencil, colored pencil, and acrylic paint. Colorful pieces covering the walls of the Simmons First Gallery contrast with black and white pencil self-portraits.

The artists, all juniors and seniors from Shalisha Thomas’s Art I and Art II classes this year, are:

 Pine Bluff High School teacher Shalisha Thomas (left), curated the 2018 exhibit of her students' works. She took over from Virginia Hymes (right), who retired last year after more than 40 years of teaching. Thomas is herself a former student of Hymes.

Pine Bluff High School teacher Shalisha Thomas (left), curated the 2018 exhibit of her students' works. She took over from Virginia Hymes (right), who retired last year after more than 40 years of teaching. Thomas is herself a former student of Hymes.

  • Aiyanna Arnold
  • Tamisha Battles

  • Jatavian Bell

  • Mya Breedlove

  • E’Leecia Clark

  • Lakeycia Cleveland

  • Johnathan Collum

  • Carrington Craig

  • Colby Davis

  • Kalaya Evans

  • Marcus Lindsey

  • Morgan Mitchell

  • Aliseyanna Nole

  • Ashia Shelton

  • Kyla Taggart

  • Justin Thomasson

Ashia Shelton, who will be a senior this fall, has three pieces in the show. “Stranger Fruit,” despite its deceptively bright colors, explores a darker narrative. The piece’s title is inspired by the poem written by Abel Meeropol and set to music, most famously performed by Billie Holiday.

“Instead of focusing on the raw meaning of the poem ‘Strange Fruit,’ I wanted to imply a different one,” Ashia explained in her artist statement. “I wanted to represent the lost voices of black men and black people in general. It was important to represent the lost voices as beautiful fruit. In this piece, I chose primary colors. Primary is defined as ‘of chief importance; principal.’ I wanted to also represent the voices as important ones rather than the ones that were outcast.”

Justin Thomasson’s “Ikicki No Uta” is one of the eye-catching works in this year's show. Justin, who will be a senior this fall, drew the self portrait in color pencil. The title was inspired by a Japanese song called “Shiki No Uta,” he said. "I chose to do myself holding the guitar because that was the kind of feeling that came from listening to the song."

Ashia's and Justin's talents have been recognized outside of school. They both previously lent their talents to the Drain Smart program, which uses art to communicate the function and importance of local storm drains. They each painted a drain near the Pine Bluff Civic Center complex; Ashia’s can be seen at 10th and State streets, and Justin’s at 11th and State streets.

Ashia designed the Go Forward Pine Bluff logo for the task force in 2017. This spring, Justin finished second in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Talent Hunt, winning a cash prize and received an all-expense paid trip to Houston, Texas, where the Omega Psi Phi Ninth District Talent Hunt was held.

Ashia and Justin were recently accepted into Girls State and Boys State., respectively.

 Johnathon Callum, who recently graduated from PBHS, speaks during the May 3 opening reception. HIs piece, "Brotherhood," seen to his left in the photo, "depicts the image of two interracial players coming together during a political conflict," Johnathon explained in his artist statement. 

Johnathon Callum, who recently graduated from PBHS, speaks during the May 3 opening reception. HIs piece, "Brotherhood," seen to his left in the photo, "depicts the image of two interracial players coming together during a political conflict," Johnathon explained in his artist statement. 

Johnathon Callum's "Brotherhood" depicts two interracial players coming together during a political conflict. "I use paint to allow the picture to pop out at you, and allow the emotions to pour out of my work," Johnathon explained in his artist statement. "It really grabs your attention, the reason I chose to do this is because I am currently channeling my art work toward the topic of 'Football and Politics.' Currently, NFL players are dealing with many political issues that are being covered up. I am trying to be their voice, and show them they do have people that see the injustice taking place. I hope to wake people up to the problems, so we can solve them one at a time." 

PBHS art teacher Shalisha Thomas curated the show for the first time this year. This was Thomas’s first year teaching at PBHS as well. She previously taught at Belair Middle School for five years.

PBHS art teacher Virginia Hymes, who retired last year after more than 40 years of teaching, facilitated the show from its inception until 2017. Hymes is also an ASC board member.

Thomas, herself a 2002 PBHS graduate, was one of many students Hymes inspired during many years of teaching.

“The high school experience is different for each student. For me, the quiet introvert, I did not feel like I fit in at times,” Thomas said. “Taking Mrs. Hymes' class in high school made me feel like I belonged. She was so encouraging, and she did not allow you to just sit in class. You had to participate!

“Mrs. Hymes saw the potential in her students. She worked tirelessly to produce strong artists. Her influence helped me make my decision to become an art educator. I have always loved art, but her passion for teaching inspired me to become a teacher. It is definitely an honor to assume Mrs. Hymes' position at Pine Bluff High School. No one can take Mrs. Hymes's place, but it is my privilege to continue to teach and inspire students like she did, and still continues to do today.”

Virginia Hymes’s pride in both her former students and Thomas’ students is evident when speaking to her. "Shalisha — she’s a former student of mind. She’s a jewel." 

Hymes, who attended the 2018 opening reception in May, loves seeing the students show off their art with their families.

“I tell you, it is such a joy when I see the kids and the parents are so proud of them," Hymes said. "It feels so good. You should see the grandparents. They bring their families. As a teacher, to see that, it means a lot. These kids are the ones you know you want to reach out to. It’s an experience you know they will never forget.”

The exhibit, sponsored by Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel, is on display through Saturday, July 7.

'Imaginate' Exhibit Encourages Experimentation, Collaboration

 students from JF Wahl Elementary school in Helena check out  "Light Hearts in Concert" Art Tower during a tour of "Imaginate" on May 9.

students from JF Wahl Elementary school in Helena check out  "Light Hearts in Concert" Art Tower during a tour of "Imaginate" on May 9.

Imaginate, ASC’s latest STEAM exhibit, is now open in the International Paper Gallery.

 Friction zone

Friction zone

The interactive, multi-activity exhibit encourages collaboration and experimentation — two concepts that innovation and invention rely upon. All of the stations are designed to involve multiple people and creative risk-taking. The activities also encourage to visitors to think about different ways of seeing, creating, and using things.

Innovation has been essential to our survival — driving the evolution of our civilization and the change in our daily quality of life. In this changing world a culture of innovation will help us meet the challenges ahead for our continued survival, both in terms of globalization and environmental changes. Whether you are doing science, art or engineering — innovative thinking can take us on the paths we have not yet explored.

Explore the different activity stations:

Friction Zone

Many good innovations come from an understanding of the properties of the materials being used. Explore kinetic friction in action by sending sliders down ramps with different surfaces. Try using heavier blocks on your slider to see how the mass affects the force of friction. Is heavier slide faster or slower? By experimenting with the surface properties of a range of materials, you can discover which combinations yield the fastest or slowest run.

 Making Faces

Making Faces

Making Faces

In this experience, one face is made of many different people. Take a picture of your own face and choose from a video collection of other people's features to create a bizarre new image. Experiment with the face you create and experiment with different facial expressions. See what makes a face beautiful to you.

 Sound Panels

Sound Panels

Sound Panels

Of the songs on your portable music player, how many sample another song? Innovation in science and technology made this possible and changed music forever.

In this room of sound and lights, you can create your own musical masterpiece involving rhythm, light, pattern and emotion. Step inside play and experiment with sets or samples programmed into the sound walls. Collaboration lets you work with each other's sounds, and competition and collaboration push and pull you to be more creative. Work together and have fun! 

“Light Hearts in Concert” Art Tower

This interactive light sculpture is powered by heartbeats. When you and a group of friends interact with it, the sculpture interprets your heartbeats and integrates them into a light show. Hold onto one of the four bars — the bar has a heart rate monitor built in. Your heartbeat becomes the drum to which the lights dance. The more people connected to the sculpture and the more heartbeats in combination, the grander the display. “Light Hearts in Concert” is designed to inspire experimentation as a team and to visually celebrate each individual as a necessary and valued part of a whole.

Material Exploration Wall

Discover the unexpected — explore materials both nature and manmade. Consider how nature has inspired man-made products. Explore the unexpected ways of using materials, and different ways they have been repurposed. Use the microscope to examine the details of a wide range of fun materials.

 A'Niyah Jones, 7, makes her own small film at the Stop-Motion Animation station.

A'Niyah Jones, 7, makes her own small film at the Stop-Motion Animation station.

Stop-Motion Animation Station

Create your own animation short using small toys and other objects. Capture your scenes with a fixed camera and easy-to-use touch screen interface. When you are finished with your story, play your movie to see your figures come to life on the screen!

Imaginate is the latest interactive traveling exhibit on loan from the Arkansas Discovery Network, a statewide museum partnership operated by Museum of Discovery in Little Rock. The traveling exhibits makes interactive STEM learning more accessible to the state’s children and their families.

Imaginate is sponsored by the Pine Bluff Area Community Foundation, an affiliate office of the Arkansas Community Foundation, Inc.

Explore Imaginate through Saturday, October 6, 2018.

Scholarships Available for Summer Camps

 Students create their own short films during the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas’ filmmaking camp in 2017. The 2018 filmmaking camp for ages 7-17 will be held July 16-20.

Students create their own short films during the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas’ filmmaking camp in 2017. The 2018 filmmaking camp for ages 7-17 will be held July 16-20.

By Shannon Frazeur

Children and teens have several options for fun and educational activities this summer at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas. ASC is hosting a slate of camps for students ages 6 to 17 in art, engineering and technology, game design and development, theater, filmmaking, and even swing dance.

Through the generosity of the June and Edmond Freeman Endowment, Simmons First Foundation, Windgate Foundation, Ben J. Altheimer Foundation and Synergy Forum Inc., ASC can provide full and partial scholarships for students to attend this year's summer camps.

“We’re very fortunate this summer to have the support of the community and to be able to offer these scholarships,” said ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller.

The camps exemplify ASC’s mission to serve as a cultural crossroad: engaging, educating and entertaining through the arts and sciences. The camps’ curricula incorporates aspects of “STEAM” — science, technology, engineering, ART and math — through student-driven projects. The camps also help students to develop the “soft skills” needed to cultivate leadership and collaboration.

“The arts help to develop 21st century skills,” ASC Public Programs Coordinator Leonor Colbert explained. “Art helps prepare kids to be future leaders in many areas of their lives because it boosts problem-solving skills, empathy, being able to see problems from other people’s perspectives, and communication and collaboration.”

Colbert is leading the two visual art camps. Art I (ages 6-11) and Art II (ages 12-17) combine lessons in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture with exploration of current ASC art exhibitions. Students will create 2D and 3D projects, and focus not only on artistic methods and working with different media, but also on the creative process itself.

“With the art camps, it’s more than just doing a bunch of art projects — we will also do activities each day to stretch their creativity muscles,” Colbert said. “The older students will be encouraged to explore the value of art in their own lives and what role art can play in their future success.”

ASC Digital Media Specialist Ashley Smith will lead the two STEAM camps, which are for ages 12-17.

Through hands-on building and experimentation, Engineering & Technology students will be introduced to electric circuits, LEDs and switches, stop-motion animation, beginning computer coding and apps, conductors and semiconductors, programming motors and app development.

Game Design & Development students will use virtual development to learn the fundamentals of creating a game through computer programming and animation, creative problem solving, mathematics, storytelling and teamwork.

Students can enroll in both half-day technology camps for a full day of STEAM learning and a discounted fee.

Justin Pike, Artistic Director for The Studio Theatre in Little Rock, is leading “The Stage” makerspace theater camp for ages 7-17.

The program takes a holistic approach to theater. Participants will sample all aspects of theater — including script writing, stage management, set design, light and sound design and costume design — as well as acting and directing. Incorporating technology, participating students will learn coding and circuitry for scenery special effects, audio and film for documenting, and basic graphic design to create a program for their production.

Their month of hard work will culminate in the production of a one-act play, Gary Ray Stapp’s “It’s Not Ugly ... It’s Art!” with public performances Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14.

“The students will have done everything in this play from the ground up,” Colbert said. “Each student will be making substantive creative contributions to the production.” The students will do everything needed to put on a production, including designing and building the sets and other jobs that do not necessarily include acting and directing but are equally important.

“They don’t always see themselves on center stage — but there are so many different ways that they can be a part of it,” Colbert said.

Eva Belle, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Mass Communication instructor and debate coach, will lead the Filmmaking camp. Students ages 7-17 will explore storytelling as an art form, develop a film idea, shoot video, record audio and edit their creation. They will be immersed in both the technology and the creative and artistic aspects of filmmaking.

“The summer camp will be composed of educational and fun creative activities that we’re sure your child will enjoy,” Belle said. “They will learn the logistics of acting, storytelling and filming."

 Special guest instructor Nick Davis will lead the “Swing, Art and All That Jazz” camp. Interested students must apply to this camp. If selected, this camp is provided at no cost to the student. 

Special guest instructor Nick Davis will lead the “Swing, Art and All That Jazz” camp. Interested students must apply to this camp. If selected, this camp is provided at no cost to the student. 

In the “Swing, Art and All That Jazz” camp, made possible through a grant from the Arkansas Department of Education, students will explore the living traditions of swing dance and music. Students will learn a different style of swing dance each day of camp and produce a short video about the history of swing. Special guest instructor Nick Davis is an ambassador with the Frankie Manning Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and instruction of traditional swing dancing. Davis has traveled nationally and internationally to teach and DJ at swing dance events, and founded Track Town Swing Club.

This camp is for students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades during the 2017-18 school year. Participants do not need to be in gifted and talented programs at their school to apply. If selected, this camp is provided at no cost to the student.

For full descriptions and dates of the camps, please visit the summer camp webpageAdvance registration is required for all camps.

Scholarship eligibility is based on financial need, including household size and household income. The deadline for submitting scholarship applications for June camps is June 1, and July 1 for July camps. Parents are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible.

Any questions about camps or scholarships may be directed to Leonor Colbert, ASC public programs coordinator, at 870-536-3375 or lcolbert@asc701.org.

Organic Forms in Metal, Textiles Intrigue in Fire & Fiber Exhibit

 ASC Digital Media Specialist and collections care assistant ashely smith (left) and ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults finish the installation of "fire & FIber: New Works by Sofia V. Gonazalez and David Clemons" on Tuesday, April 24, in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery. 

ASC Digital Media Specialist and collections care assistant ashely smith (left) and ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults finish the installation of "fire & FIber: New Works by Sofia V. Gonazalez and David Clemons" on Tuesday, April 24, in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery. 

By Shannon Frazeur

Metal and fabric come together for the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas’ latest art exhibit, Fire & Fiber: New Works by Sofia V. Gonzalez and David Clemons, opening Thursday, April 26, 2018, in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery. The exhibit kicks off with a reception from 5-7 p.m. April 26. The artists will be on hand to make remarks at 5:30.

Fire & Fiber features the work of metalsmith David Clemons and fiber artist Sofia V. Gonzalez.

“The organic nature of both artforms comes together in a sumptuous feast for the eyes,” says ASC Curator Lenore Shoults, Ph.D.

“Clemons’ sculpture and jewelry conjoin the raw power of metalwork and delicate use of found objects,” Shoults says. “Gonzalez conjures a palette from nature dyeing silk, wool, and cotton to form the exquisite layers of her sculptures. In both artists’ work, we find unexpected use of materials. Gonzalez uses fiber almost like paint, stroke upon stroke of rich color building sculptures sometimes reaching over four feet in size. Clemons’ work is diminutive and yet powerful, the use of found objects packing a punch once enveloped in silver. By the hand of both artists, the ordinary elevates to art; Gonzalez takes debris from the natural environment boiling it into luscious colors and Clemons frames the detritus of humans in sterling.”

 David Clemons, “Debris Field ,”  2016 (Neck Piece) Sterling silver and mixed media, 18” diameter

David Clemons, “Debris Field,” 2016 (Neck Piece)
Sterling silver and mixed media, 18” diameter

Clemons is an artist in residence and instructor in metalsmithing and jewelry in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree in metalsmithing from San Diego State University.

“My studio work has always been an extension of the experiences I have internalized, and I dissect my experiences and tease out greater awareness of the impact levied by each experience,” Clemons says in his artist statement. “My practice has become deeply introspective as probing my understanding of loneliness, friendships, creativity, Southern culture, fatherhood, and finding a new sense of place and redefined identity have been my source material. This personal exploration has been difficult at times as I do not always feel I have the adequate tools or emotional distance to gain insights into some of these uncomfortable mental places.

“The nagging question at the root of the work is: What happens as you confront and reconcile the mental image of yourself with the reality of who you must be, based on the demands of your life? This was the question I pondered sitting on a rocky shore line watching a boat struggle against the waves to reach open sea. The infinite possibility in the vast expanse of the ocean posed a physical and metaphorical escape; this is an escape with brilliant potential but fraught with danger. The seeds for this body of work initially grew in the form of a short story inspired by this observation. The story chronicles a character fleeing from captivity only to meet an uncanny stowaway on his boat. I found myself being more enticed by the objects I began sketching than the written words. The objects have nautical references and heavily feature crude boats and warning buoys foreshadowing impending destruction.

“As I executed the work in this new direction I utilized a process-based approach, a methodology driven by trying to convey emotional tension and introspection through material manipulation and alluring objects. Ultimately, the objects stand alone from the narrative and are intended to evoke a visceral response in the viewer, tapping into subconscious fears, anxieties, sympathies, and curiosities. The works are intended to be stand-ins for a human need to probe the darkness of the unknown within one’s self.”

 Sofia V. Gonzalez, “portrait of place, 3,” 2015 Mint, rosemary, blackberry, black bean, oak galls, and eucalyptus natural dye with iron on raw silk, 30”h x 12”w x 7”d

Sofia V. Gonzalez, “portrait of place, 3,” 2015
Mint, rosemary, blackberry, black bean, oak galls, and eucalyptus natural dye with iron on raw silk, 30”h x 12”w x 7”d

Gonzalez is an adjunct professor of art at the University of Central Arkansas and UA-Little Rock. She has an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where she focused on furthering her skills in textiles and natural dye techniques. She was a 2017 Hot Springs National Park artist in residence. The Arkansas Arts Council awarded her an Individual Artist Fellowship in Contemporary Craft in 2017.

“As a maker, I feel a frantic urge to record the places I have known, such as northern California and central Arkansas, to attempt to embody the way these locations have shaped me and the way I feel within them,” Gonzalez says in her artist statement. “Recording and archiving both physical and emotional landscapes, I create a moving methodology to respond to places that have already affected me and those I will meet in the future.

“Collecting flowers, hulls, barks, fruits and vegetables, I boil the materials to release the inherent colors of the land. Sewing, looping, and layering naturally stained textiles focuses a restless mind as I archive through making to respond to the fear of what may happen when a place changes. A homesickness for places I still know saturates each stain and reveals a constant concern of what might happen when a specific site and I are no longer connected. The fleeting feeling of place leaves me frantically trying to grasp onto something I cannot hold. To keep still, my hands must move and I ground myself in the physical plants and fibers. I knot, loop, cut, and drape dyed textiles to focus and to remember the intimate moments in each place I know. The cardinal singing in the backyard at dawn is woven into each crocheted thread, actually colored by the neighboring summer weeds.

“I am colored by the land; together, we generate place.”

“I have been fortunate to see both of these artists at work: Sofia teaching young students the techniques of hand-dyeing with natural materials, and David demonstrating the process of forging metal for maker audiences young and old,” says ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller, “Each artist's methodology and aesthetic reflects ASC's aim to explore with our community the diversity of artistic expression.”

This exhibit marks the debut of the gallery’s new LED lighting, which was made possible by the generosity of the late Diane Ayres. She was a longtime supporter of ASC.

The exhibition is sponsored by Relyance Bank, the Arkansas Arts Council, and the Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission.

Fire & Fiber runs through Saturday, July 28, 2018.