Two new exhibits to debut in Walton Arts Center’s Joy Pratt Markam Gallery Oct. 4

‘Philanthropy’ by Kathy P. Thompson.

Photo: Ironside Photography

Two new art exhibitions, including one by longtime Fayetteville artist Kathy Thompson, will open on Thursday, Oct. 4 at Joy Pratt Markham Gallery inside Walton Arts Center.

The opening, entitled “Treasures & History: A Gallery Open House” features a newly commissioned installation by Thompson entitled “20 Years,” along with a show entitled “My Folklore: The Art of Letitia Huckaby” featuring new work by the Dallas-based artist.

Thompson’s installation features 20 of her H Boxes, mixed-media boxes that arrange treasured artifacts into dynamic and resonant compositions. Thompson was approached about the commission by Walton Arts Center Vice President of Programs, Jenni Swain to create “an original project inspired by archival study, memorabilia and responses from patrons, staff and the arts community” that :honors the past and celebrates the 20-year impression of Walton Arts Center on the cultural landscape of Northwest Arkansas.”

“We wanted a project that involved an artist from the community who had a history with Walton Arts Center,” Swain said. “In Kathy Thompson, we found an artist who is passionate, curious, and engaged with the community…Her civic engagement coupled with her artistic accomplishments made her the perfect fit for this project.”

Thompson said she spent several months interviewing Walton Arts Center staff past and present, as well as her perspective on the arts center as a resident of Fayetteville to draw inspiration for the installation.

“I didn’t approach it from a typical historical direction,” she said. “It’s more about what I thought was important. I’ve lived here in Fayetteville for the entire time the Walton Arts Center’s been here, so I had that perspective, too.”

Huckaby’s My Folklore exhibit combines the documentary aspects of photography with quilt making techniques, intended to explore her personal roots and cultural heritage using her background in both journalism and photography.

“Huckaby’s work springs from an examination of her own family roots, but it also speaks to the way all of us continually piece together and creatively reassemble the artifacts of our family and cultural histories,” said Andrea Packard, Walton Arts Center’s consulting curator.

“With their idiosyncratic blend of fact and fiction, remembrance and erasure, elegance and fragility, Huckaby’s artworks offer poignant reminders of the power of folklore—embedded so many stories, songs, and artworks—to strengthen our identity, foster community, and guide us forward,” Packard said.

The two exhibitions will be on display from October 4 – January 13, 2013.

The open house is set for 5:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, and is free to attend and open to the public.