The coronavirus pandemic has affected the art community just as it has virtually all aspects of society. Large exhibitions and opening events are scarce. Few opportunities exist for those who want to see fresh work in the visual arts.
One such opportunity, however, does exist on the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith campus. While the main gallery of the Windgate Art and Design Building sits empty due to Covid-19, the upstairs Don Lee Student Gallery currently houses a hidden gem of a show for those willing to seek it out.
This exhibit, "Drawing Conclusions," highlights student work from a recent advanced drawing class. Here you will encounter a variety of responses to various assigned themes. One such drawing prompt requires students to reimagine themselves as a different character or personality altogether. On large sheets of paper measuring 5 feet by 4 feet, they’ve portrayed themselves in roles such as a magician, a fairy, a deranged murderer, a witch, and a man from the 1930s, among others.
"Year after year, the students’ favorite project is the large-scale alter ego assignment," said Art Professor Ernest Cialone. "They enjoy making a self-portrait, and they also enjoy creating a fantasy identity for themselves. It is like an art masquerade party."
Also, on display are a variety of drawings relating to the theme of movement. One example is a series of six small renderings depicting dancing figures. Another artist drew his son riding a vintage bronco pony ride. A third image is a capital letter J, drawn with soft edges so it seems to reverberate as you view it. Other works express personal subjects such as dealing with chronic pain or seeing the hopefulness of young children.
Windgate Art & Design, 535 N. Waldron Road, Fort Smith, is located across the street from the Stubblefield Center. The Don Lee Student Gallery is housed in Room 217, opposite the elevator. "Drawing Conclusions" will open to the public on Sept. 14 by reservation only. Reservations to view the show and obtain a visitor’s parking permit may be made by calling (479) 788-7290. Access to the gallery is limited due to the pandemic and only groups of five or less will be admitted. Visitors must observe all safety protocols for the university, including the use of face masks.
This column is produced by the River Valley Art Coalition. Our mission is to inform citizens and visitors of fine art exhibitions and educational opportunities in Fort Smith and the surrounding region. We also highlight people who make the local art scene such a vibrant and important part of our community. To send comments or for more information on the River Valley Arts Coalition contact firstname.lastname@example.org.