Sculptor Hank Kaminsky of Fayetteville has been named the 2018 Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
“It filled me with joy to get this recognition,” Kaminsky, 79, said in a telephone interview. “I am very honored.”
Kaminsky will be celebrated at a free public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 1 at the Fayetteville Town Center, 15 W. Mountain St.
One of Kaminsky’s best-known works is the World Peace Prayer Fountain sculpture, which is in front of the Fayetteville Town Center. It is a 10-foot-diameter bronze sphere with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” hand-sculpted on its surface in more than 100 languages. With assistance from volunteers and interns from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the sculpture took nearly 18 months to complete.
The World Peace Prayer Fountain sculpture appears to be floating on water; it is mounted on a bearing so a person can spin it by hand, like they might a prayer wheel.
“The city is replacing the bearing, so the sculpture should be up and running again in time for the reception,” Kaminsky said. He has been making a living as a full-time sculptor since he was 19. His commissioned public art pieces are scattered throughout Arkansas, Texas, Pennsylvania and California. Kaminsky’s artworks also include abstract sculptures, portrait busts (including one of Sam Walton), plaques, medals and jewelry.
Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, said in a news release that it is a “delight to see his public art pieces throughout the state. Arkansas is fortunate to have such a talented artist who also gives back to the community by teaching his craft to future generations.”
“It’s hard to imagine Fayetteville without Hank Kaminsky,” said Joshua Youngblood, associate professor and research and outreach services librarian for special collections at the University of Arkansas. Youngblood said Kaminsky’s art has made the area “more sacred.”
Kaminsky moved to Eureka Springs from New York City in 1971, where he met his wife, JoAnn. They are the parents of two sons who also are working artists. They moved to Fayetteville in 1984 and co-founded The Art Experience, which started as a community art school.
After a brush with death in August due to a severe throat infection, Kaminsky says he hasn’t regained his full strength.
“I’m going through a cleansing process. What I’m doing now is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. I have a room in the house where I will bring in symbolic tools … a desk, a sand bench … and spend four or five hours a day learning who I am, figure out what the shape of the universe is and what I have to do with that. It might be more sculpture, but it could be poetry or music. … I’m waiting to see what happens.
“I have found that if you follow your own inclinations as far as you can, it’s really cool … that’s what I want to do, be who I am the best I can.”
Past recipients of the Arkansas Living Treasure include fiber artist Louise Halsey of Eureka Springs in 2017, log cabin builder Robert Runyan of Winslow in 2014, potter Winston Taylor of Russellville in 2011, wood sculptor Robyn Horn of Little Rock in 2008 and fiddle maker Violet Hensley in 2004.
For information on the past recipients of Arkansas Living Treasures, visit the Arkansas Arts Council's website.