ArtsFest to feature works with recycled material

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published September 13, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

Alice Guffey Miller of Monticello will create a community sculpture made from recycled CDs and DVDs in the fountain at Simon Park as part of Conway ArtsFest, which will begin Sept. 26 and continue through Oct. 3. At the conclusion of ArtsFest, the sculpture will be used at EcoFest in Laurel Park on Oct. 10 and finally will be installed at the Metro Square Plaza under development by Salter Properties in front of Regions Bank in downtown Conway.

It’s full STEAM ahead for this year’s ArtsFest, set for Sept. 26 through Oct. 3. Playing off the now well-recognized educational acronym STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — the festival’s planning committee has added another element to that acronym— Art — and it has become STEAM.

Science, technology, engineering, art and math are the components of this year’s theme for ArtsFest, which is Conway’s weeklong celebration of music, visual art, theater, dance, creative writing and film. STEAM is the inspiration of many of this year’s events, highlighting the connection between the arts and STEM subjects.

“We have two featured artists who work in recycled materials and that fits right into this theme,” said Gayle Seymour, professor of art history and associate dean of the College of Fine Art and Communication at the University of Central Arkansas and longtime member of the Conway Alliance for the Arts, sponsor of the annual ArtsFest.

“The artists are Alice Guffey Miller of Monticello, Arkansas, and Dan Steinhilber of Washington, D.C.,” she said.

“Miller is creating a community sculpture made from recycled CDs and DVDs,” Seymour said. “The work will be in the fountain at Simon Park for ArtsFest, be moved to Laurel Park for EcoFest set for Oct. 10 and finally installed at the Metro Square Plaza under development by Salter Properties in front of Regions Bank in downtown Conway.

“Steinhilber will be doing a gallery exhibit at the Baum (Baum Gallery of Fine Art at UCA) and an outdoor sculpture on campus made entirely of chain-link fence,” Seymour said.

Seymour said she first met Miller about 18 years ago when the artist worked with UCA and Conway Junior High School to create a mural — Essential Elements — at the campus.

“It’s still there in the atrium on the south side of the street and it has a science theme,” Seymour said. “That project was funded by the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

“When we came up with the theme for this year’s ArtsFest, I immediately though of Alice,” Seymour said, adding this year’s project with Miller is funded by the Arkansas Arts Council’s Arts on Tour program and by Salter Properties.

Miller will title her work Harmonized Reflections: A Pillar of the Community.

She will create a 10-foot column made of coated Styrofoam into which she will insert recycled, reflective CDs and DVDs in a spiraling pattern. The artist said recycled cut-glass prisms, together with the water in the fountain, will add further layers of reflectivity that with animate the work.

Miller conducted a citywide call for unwanted CDs and DVDs, with a goal of 3,000.

“I think I have enough CDs,” Miller said recently as she looked at the fountain in Simon Park. “I just received 4,000 today. Goodwill Industries of Arkansas in Little Rock donated 3,000 and B&L Drywall and Acoustics of Conway gave me 1,000.”

She said the community drive for the CDs and DVDs has generated interest in the project. She hopes to generate further community involvement by inviting members of the community to reflect on the meaning of community and to write thoughtful messages on additional CDs/DVDs

Festivalgoers will also glue glass beads on the discs, acting as weights, so Miller can arrange them around the fountain wall at Simon Park and in spiral patterns in the grass at EcoFest. Miller said these inscribed discs will eventually cover the floor of the Metro Square fountain, “making the Pillar of the Community a work that will reflect the community’s voice and celebrate environmental awareness.”

Miller said she has been involved in community art projects “since the early ’80s.”

She has created sculptures across Arkansas, including works at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs and the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock.

Steinhilber will serve as an artist-in-residence for the fall season at UCA’s Baum Gallery of Fine Art.

His sculptural artwork will be on display in an exhibit, Primary Developments, through Oct. 23. Entry to the exhibit and the gallery is free and open to the public during normal gallery hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, with extended hours of 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Steinhilber will also create an outdoor public art installation, Dark Matter, on the UCA campus. This installation, which will be between Harrin and McAlister halls, will be part of Conway ArtsFest.

“The large scale of Steinhilber’s work and his unique use of commonplace materials make the work very exciting to experience,” said Barclay McConnell, director of the Baum Gallery of Fine Art. “The sculpture he is creating outdoors on UCA’s campus is entirely new and sure to be dynamic and eye-catching.”

Steinhilber, who was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has lived and worked out of Washington, D.C., since 2000. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Institute of Art and Design in Milwaukee and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the American University in Washington, D.C.

His recent solo exhibitions include Marlin Underground at the Kreeger Museum in D.C. and Hold on Loosely at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina. Steinhilber has also had work included in a variety of group exhibitions in museums both domestically and internationally.

Conway ArtsFest kicks off Sept. 26 with the exhibitions by Miller and Steinhilber.

Several other art exhibits will be on display beginning Sept. 26, including the Independent Living Services Art Exhibit at Bob’s Grill on Oak Street and the college student competitive exhibit, Reimagine Society, at the Faulkner County Library, 1900 Tyler St.

Information on additional ArtsFest events can be found elsewhere in today’s River Valley and Ozark Edition.

A schedule of events can also be found online at www.artsinconway.org.