'Heavy Metal' Exhibition Showcases 'Women to Watch'

Robyn Horn,  1190 Layers of Steel , 2007, steel. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Robyn Horn, 1190 Layers of Steel, 2007, steel. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Statewide Tour Features Arkansas Nominees for National Museum of Women of the Arts Exhibition

The Heavy Metal: Arkansas Women to Watch 2019 exhibition tour begins its southeast Arkansas visit this week as the latest exhibition in the Arts & Science Center’s Kennedy Gallery.

The exhibition at ASC opens with a free public reception on Thursday, April 25, from 5-7 p.m. Artists will be on hand for remarks beginning at 5:30. ASC’s volunteer organization Art Krewe along with MK Distributors are sponsoring the reception.

The state tour is organized and sponsored by the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (ACNMWA).

The exhibition features work by Arkansas artists Michele Fox, Amanda Heinbockel, Robyn Horn, and Holly Laws. As the title suggests, all the works include metal as the primary or accent medium. The works range in size and form, and include pieces such as wooden and steel installations and finely detailed silver jewelry.

“The four artists featured in this Women to Watch exhibit have worked with metal in a variety of ways: casting bronze, soldering gold, welding iron and crocheting silver,” said Barbara Satterfield, chair of the ACNMWA Exhibition Committee. “The show is a great mixed-media idea lab for form as well as function.”

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C., developed the Women to Watch exhibit program to increase the visibility of and critical response to promising female artists. The program features artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. NMWA curators select the theme, and local arts professionals curate submissions to the national museum.

Holly Laws’ mixed-media installations  Placeholder  (front) and  Three Eastern Bluebird s (right) and were selected for inclusion in the national exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C.

Holly Laws’ mixed-media installations Placeholder (front) and Three Eastern Bluebirds (right) and were selected for inclusion in the national exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C.

ACNMWA is the only affiliate of the national museum to organize statewide tours of work by its nominees to the national competitive. Heavy Metal is the fifth in the biennial series that is seen by an average of 5,000 Arkansans across the state, according to the ACNMWA. The 2019 state tour premiered in February at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. The exhibition will have traveled to eight venues across the state when the tour wraps in November.

ACNMW’s guest curator Matthew Smith selected the national nominees and the four Arkansas artists featured in the 2019 state tour. “These artists have created new traditions and extended existing boundaries, developing their vision with the use of metal,” Smith wrote in his curatorial essay. “From sculpture to delicate pieces of jewelry, they have informed our understanding of metal’s potential: its conceptual malleability and its dynamic potential.”

Laws’ mixed-media installations Three Eastern Bluebirds and Placeholder were selected for inclusion in the national exhibit, which was held at the NMWA from June 28–September 16, 2018.

The exhibition is on display at ASC through Saturday, June 22. Its next stop is the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale.

The Artists

Michele Fox, She wanted to be beautiful, 2017. copper craft wire, assorted hardware, scrap copper, 14k gold filled wire and chain, glass beads, argentium sterling wire, gray tiger eye beads, and suede. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Michele Fox, She wanted to be beautiful, 2017. copper craft wire, assorted hardware, scrap copper, 14k gold filled wire and chain, glass beads, argentium sterling wire, gray tiger eye beads, and suede. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Michele Fox of Little Rock began working with metal at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. She first exhibited with a series titled “Safety Nets”; the work focused on the primitive need for safety that she experienced while going through a year of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

“Every piece of jewelry she creates is a unique, fully functional work of art,” Matthew Smith wrote of Fox’s work in his curatorial essay. “The idea of rigidity in her metal materials completely disappears as the lines of her works intertwine amongst themselves. Fox’s skillful combination of manmade metal wire and nature-made materials results in wearable and fashionable fine art.”

Fox’s fine art jewelry can be found in The Galleries at Library Square, located in the Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History and Art in Little Rock.

A medical doctor, Fox is a blood banking and transfusion medicine specialist and professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

“I am a physician with an alternate life as an artist, who started using fiber techniques to make metal or mixed-media jewelry because the tactile sense of how jewelry feels is as important to me as how it looks,” she wrote in her artist statement.

Amanda Heinbockel, For Mimi, 2017, sterling silver and brass. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Amanda Heinbockel, For Mimi, 2017, sterling silver and brass. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Amanda Heinbockel of Little Rock is an art teacher at Central High School. She recently exhibited at Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock, and North Little Rock’s Argenta Branch Library and Thea Foundation.

Before joining the Central High faculty, Heinebockel completed an artist residency at Elsewhere: A Living Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Secondary Education degree from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.

Heinbockel’s pieces in Heavy Metal include jewelry and small, detailed sculptures. Some pieces include symbols from her childhood experiences. She made the brass Reliquary for Cindy Bird in memory of the last pet cockatiel she had growing up. The brooch For Mimi included a silver bloom of her grandmother’s favorite flower (gardenia) and a tomato vine (a staple in her grandmother’s garden). A sterling silver ring (Root Ring) opens to reveal a root design. While several pieces feature plant anatomy, the silver and enameled copper earrings Digestive System focus on human anatomy.

Robyn Horn, #1263 Industrial Series NO. 19 “Star Wheel,” 2017, pine and steel. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Robyn Horn, #1263 Industrial Series NO. 19 “Star Wheel,” 2017, pine and steel. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Robyn Horn’s work is in museum collections around the country. Among them are the Arts & Science Center, the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Asheville Art Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of Arts + Design in New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. Her work can also be seen in galleries such as Greg Thompson Fine Art in North Little Rock and Justus Fine Art Gallery in Hot Springs.

In addition to her contributions as an artist, Horn has long been engaged in numerous state and national arts organizations and foundations.

Horn has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from Hendrix College in Conway. Horn has worked in other mediums such as painting and photography but she is most known for her abstract, geometrical, textural wood sculptures. She has worked in the medium for more than 30 years, and was awarded the prestigious Arkansas Living Treasure Award in 2008 for her work as a wood sculptor.

Her seven pieces in Heavy Metal reflect her exploration of metal in her recent works.

“I have used steel in different ways, employing it as a material of strength in my Steel Series, and using it as an accent in my Industrial Series to augment my wood sculptures,” Horn wrote in her artist statement. “Lately, I have come to see the conceptual aspect of steel and cast iron in my work as a way of questioning process or function.”

Detail of Holly Law’s placeholder, 2017, cast bronze, found ironing board, and plywood pedestal. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Detail of Holly Law’s placeholder, 2017, cast bronze, found ironing board, and plywood pedestal. IMAGE COURTESY Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Holly Laws of Mayflower is a sculptor and also creates multimedia installations. She is an associate professor of art at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway where she teaches three-dimensional design and sculpture. Before joining the UCA faculty, Laws worked with Bread and Puppet Theater in New York City and with several motion picture studios in set dressing, custom fabrication, and prop design.S

She has exhibited in galleries and museums across the country including the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock; the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.; the Flaten Museum of Art at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota; the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts, Muriel Guépin Gallery, and the Spring/Break Art Show, in New York City.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Tyler School of Art, Temple University.

Laws’ three large mixed-media sculptures in Heavy Metal were created as part of a larger body of work titled Bellwether, which began in the fall of 2016 “as a response to my sadness over the divisive state of affairs in the American political landscape,” she wrote in her artist statement. “I wanted to explore the horrible disconnect between the citizens of this nation: the miscommunication, the polarization, and the hate. The resurgence of overt misogyny and the backlash against feminism were of particular interest to me.”