In 1988 when I moved to Conway I was 8 years old and the population was around 24,000.
Since then I have seen Toad Suck grow into an important part of the town’s identity, I have witnessed ArtsFest gaining ground and Kris Allen win American Idol. Even the Sound Stage, which began when I was in high school, is still going strong.
However, there is a void when it comes to the ability of young artists to show work.
As a sculpture major at UCA, I have only two places in Conway where my work and the work of other students can be shown in a professional atmosphere: The Black Box Student Gallery and The Baum Gallery.
Students at Hendrix are in the same predicament, with the Trieschmann Gallery and the lobby of Building A of the Art Complex.
This raises the question, "What do I do after I graduate to get my work seen?"
The obvious answer is to submit to galleries everywhere.
Okay, seems easy right? However, many artists upon graduation lose the feedback given in critiques and begin to fear their talents.
In anticipation of my graduation in the fall of 2013, I decided to form a group outside of classes to help emerging artists, and myself, find their way to an audience.
With the advice of visiting artist Ryan Mulligan and inspiration from the book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, I began the group Art in Fear, with the help of Amanda Mamula, Kenneth Nelson, Kate Adams, Julie Isom, and Amy Hazel.
Our mission is to continue the creative passion instilled in us by our professors once assignments and deadlines are a thing of the past.
We seek to learn new media together and teach our skills to one another.
We held our first show May 5th at Kings Dueling Piano just outside of the Toad Suck festival.
There were some very incredible and inspirational works on display, none more provocative than Ciara Long’s "Cognitive Dissonance."
The drawing is a large scale duel self-portrait with the left persona extending both arms pointing a gun to the face of the frightened right persona. The frightened persona has her left hand clenching her jaw and her right entangled in her hair.
Cognitive Dissonance is defined as the discomfort felt by holding conflicting conditions simultaneously such as ideas, beliefs, values, and emotions.
Long says the work, "is mainly about resolving an internal conflict and killing off the negative voices. I’m naturally a very indecisive person, so big life decisions are very challenging for me. I go back and forth all the time and I wanted to illustrate the ‘normal’ side of myself destroying the side that encourages me to change my mind frequently or make the wrong choices."
The work was chosen as Best in Show since the title and the work exemplifies Art in Fear’s current mission, the passion and joy that creating art can bring, alongside the devastation and fear it can also hold.
Our next show will be at Michelangelo’s Restaurant from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 29.