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story.lead_photo.caption Farrell Ford, executive director of the Clark County Arts and Humanities Council, shows one of the highlights of the traveling art exhibit Wandering Spirit: African Wax Prints that is on display at the Arkadelphia Arts Center. This King’s Chair dress form, created in 1980, is part of the exhibit, courtesy of the Beatrice Benson Collection. Visitors to the exhibit are not allowed to touch the fabrics with their bare hands but will be issued gloves similar to those Ford is wearing. - Photo by William Harvey

— The Clark County Arts and Humanities Council is sponsoring a special traveling art exhibit to coincide with the observance of February as Black History Month.

Wandering Spirit: African Wax Prints will remain on view through March 2 at the Arkadelphia Arts Center, 625 Main St.

Farrell Ford, executive director of the CCAHC, said the exhibition is a tribute to the century-old handmade designs and patterns on textiles that originated in Indonesia and were copied and industrialized by Europeans and exported to Africa.

“These pieces were created on natural materials using a wax-resist process known as batik,” she said. “It’s a process of waxing and dyeing fabric. The process can be repeated until the artist gets the desired design. It can be a long process.

“It’s an old, old craft but still very popular in parts of the world,” Ford said.

“I have never done batik, but I am about to learn,” she said, smiling. “I’ve got all the tools.”

Ford said Wandering Spirit traces the development pathway of the African wax print and tells how these fabrics reflect the stories, dreams and personalities of the people who wear them.

The exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Ford said the exhibit came to Arkadelphia from Bentonville and will be shipped next to St. Joseph, Michigan.

“This is a good exhibit,” she said. “I am glad to have it here.”

The public is invited to view the exhibit during normal gallery hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. There is no admission charge.

However, viewers are not allowed to touch the fabrics.

“We have gloves for our visitors to wear,” Ford said.

Ford said a photography exhibit featuring work by students from Henderson State University will be installed March 13 at the Arkadelphia Arts Center. A reception for that exhibit is scheduled from 4:30-5:30 p.m. March 15. The exhibit will close March 30.

Ford said the Clark County Arts and Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the arts and artists by “bringing arts to the community and the community to the arts.”

The focal point and physical presence for this mission is the Arkadelphia Arts Center, which is operated by the CCAHC.

Ford said the Arts Center serves the community as it presents diverse events such as local and touring visual arts exhibits like Wandering Spirits, programs, workshops, meetings and receptions. Volunteers provide all work at the center.

“Every event is a teaching and learning experience whose main objective is to promote arts and artists by involving the community and the other local arts organizations in a collaborative effort forming a connective strand,” Ford said.

For more information, call the Arkadelphia Arts Center at (870) 245-7982, or visit its Facebook page.

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