On a hot June morning, four artists stood around a worktable in a large workshop and poured resin into plastic containers to create magnets, jewelry and bobby pins they plan to sell to fund making more art.
Inside tiny molds, artists had arranged images made of items like clock parts and even insects. Julie Isom — who owned the workshop — brought in a dead bird and spiders and showed a resin piece of a surreal landscape captured in clear resin.
The group, called Art in Fear, formed this year to give artists a place to go to hear other artists, get ideas and find support, members said. The first show, in May, was held at a downtown venue and sold a painting, two photographs and four to five prints. The second show is coming in September.
"We are going to make people see our art, and we aren’t going to be afraid," Isom said.
The group formed to support each other as they attempt to make their names as emerging artists in Central Arkansas. It started with six founders — Isom, Jason Busby, Amanda Mamula, Kenneth Nelson, Kate Adams and Amy Hazel. The artists want to produce art shows, exhibits of local artists and excitement about art. They want to encourage each other to exhibit and produce art no matter what. And, they want to create a salon — like what the impressionists had in the 1800s — where ideas and energy are shared among artists.
"We’re just going to show our work no matter what," Mamula said.
At the workshop, Mamula stirs her clear cup of resin and fills several pieces she’s arranged with the glue-like substance that will harden clear and shiny over tiny images she has clipped from a history book and magazines.
"I love those Austrian face paintings," she said, looking at her pieces. "They’re my favorite."
The crafts are part of an attempt to raise money for the fledgling group. Last month, Isom held an art sale to benefit the group, but so far, only about $40 has been raised for supplies, Busby said. He said he hopes to raise enough for art demonstrations in the future.
Since June, Busby sold a pair of cuff links and a ring, but most of the crafts the group made in June will be for sale at Michelangelo’s Italian Ristorante during ArtsFest. That’s when members plan to put on a second art show Sept. 29. The group began accepting submissions for the show with the theme "identity" in June with a submission deadline of Sept. 19.
Members said they want more artists to join the group or for other groups dedicated to art to spring up. The group works with UCA and Hendrix art students, Mamula said. The goal is just to get artists out there, but it is outside of UCA, she said.
"We have a goal, and it’s like ‘You can accomplish this no matter where you’re coming from," Mamula said.
Currently, none of the artists have jobs that use their art skills, Busby said. In June, at least two had food service jobs to make ends meet, Nelson said. Others, including Busby, are working on their education, but the group is outside of UCA, Isom said. It’s diverse, except for a connection to and love of art, members said.
"What we are thinking about is taking a community not usually seen and bringing it to the front," Isom said.
Art is often overlooked, but Conway and Central Arkansas seem to want an art community, Isom said.
Busby said many times artists stop producing after they graduate when, in fact, they should keep trying. Those budding artists lose feedback they used to get in a college setting, he said. Sometimes fear sets in, and they stop showing art altogether.
"I’ve been in my own world for seven years," Busby said. "This is a big step for me to be out and hanging around people."
Art in Fear wants to fill a void for artists and give them a leg up in getting their names out to the public, Busby said. Members said the group makes art even more enjoyable.
"I’ve been having fun making art," Busby said.
For more information on Art in Fear, check out the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/ArtInFear.