In conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, “Celebrate Diversity” is the theme for the September and October Art on the Bricks VIRTUAL Art Walk, September 15 – October 15, 2020. Art plays an important role in reflecting and influencing the culture of our community. As NWA experiences rapid demographic changes, we are privileged to become acquainted with new friends and neighbors who bring with them a wide variety of cultures, influences, experiences and heritage from across the globe. The Celebrate Diversity virtual exhibit seeks to serve as a reflection of the artists’ cultures and their contributions to the creative economy in Northwest Arkansas. Artists are invited to submit photos, videos or audio files of their visual or performance art to be showcased on Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. The virtual exhibit will reside on social media sites including those of Downtown Rogers Art on the Bricks and the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce September 15-October 15, 2020.
Twenty-five artists have submitted their work for inclusion in the “Celebrate Diversity” virtual exhibit. With their submissions, artists were asked to share a snippet of their personal story that has contributed to how they view the world around them and incorporate that viewpoint in the creative process.
Artist Adriana Patrucco’s paintings examine everyday scenes using light and shadows to create puzzling settings which lead the observer to ask, "what is behind those settings" or "where do these characters come from." Born and raised in Perú, Patrucco is strongly influenced by the Peruvian indigenist's paintings from the first four decades of the 20th century. In particular, she is inspired by the work of José Sabogal and Carlota Carvallo. Adriana’s attraction to these artists is reflected in the innovative use of exaggerated facial features and the use of particular colors, reminiscent of those used in Andean folklore.
David Gomez’ art is heavily influenced by his culture. From an early age he has always been amused by the art influence of the native Mexican aboriginal people. Their language was artistic and, just like the Egyptians, they used images to convey messages. “I have ADHD and dyslexia, so I gravitated towards this form of language,” explained Gomez. Because of the challenges he faces reading text, he is influenced by the symbolism movement that was popular in the late 19th century when artists communicated ideas through symbols instead of depicting reality. “My culture gives me a voice, and it gives me a foundation to communicate the ideas that I share through my artwork.”
Earlier this year, artist Kinya Christian worked with the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce to curate an art collection reflective of the African diaspora to the modern-day black experience in America. “Reflections of the Black Experience” debuted during the February Art on the Bricks Art Walk at the Rogers Experimental House and then migrated to the Rogers Historical Museum. The exhibit took inspiration from The 1619 Project, a group of essays, photos and art published by The New York Times. Christian and a small team of motivated artists put together an exhibit with local and regional artists worked with the publishers to share this impactful exhibit with the NWA community.
Artist Chuck Stout and his sister were raised by a single mom on welfare in the 1950s and 60s. They had playmates of diverse ethnicities all around in their Toledo, Ohio neighborhood. Stout was accustomed to seeing diverse families of mixed races with a frequently changing population in his community. “I embrace all people and accept them based on how they treat other people,” he explained.
Years later, he enjoys painting and sharing images of portraits he has created of his grandchildren. His daughter, who is white and her partner, who is black, have been friends since high school and together as a couple for 10 years. They are raising their three children. Stout enjoys painting portraits his family and has also created portraits of two same sex couples which he has given as wedding gifts. His work can currently be seen at Java Dudes Coffee Company and the DTR Market where he displays and takes orders for custom pet portraits.
Bella Vista Artist Susan Blackwood loves to paint portraits and landscapes. Her work has been exhibited in hundreds of galleries and museums, published in magazines and earned her signature status and many awards from national and international painting societies. Classically trained, her typical works reflects impressionistic-realism and contemporary styles. She has traveled nationally and internationally teaching art classes and workshops in countries including Croatia, Mexico, Venezuela, India, China, Portugal and Spain.
Blackwood is part Cherokee and her art was influenced by her heritage while she was in her mid-20s. Her first portraits were of native Americans. Now, almost 50 years later, the emotions of each person she paints filters through. “Regardless of skin tone or ethnicity, I love to reflect the beautiful souls as I capture the faces of the people I paint,” Blackwood explained.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Blackwood is connecting with people from around the world. She is teaching painting classes virtually with students ranging from as far as England, Puerto Rico, Canada and of course throughout the U.S. “In this time and space, I am realizing I can be far more effective teaching virtually than I ever expected. I am developing a new dimension in my teaching which I am finding to be much more effective.”