LITTLE ROCK A closer look at the current work of Conway clay artist Barbara Satterfield reveals little secrets — press molds of dirt-dauber nests, buckeye seeds or pods, roots, thorns. These are some of the “found objects” she has included in her ceramic sculptures on display at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock.
Satterfield is part of a two-woman show, Found in Nature: Kate Nessler and Barbara Satterfield, which will continue in the museum’s upstairs Trinity
Gallery for Arkansas Artists through May 6. Nessler is a botanical artist from Kingston in Madison County.
“These are large pieces, larger than I usually create,” Satterfield said, smiling.
“[The museum curators] wanted large. I have seven pieces on display, strategically placed throughout the gallery, with Kate’s works hung on the walls. These are seven out of 12 pieces that are featured on my website, barbarasatterfield.com,” she said.
“I am so delighted with this exhibit,” said Satterfield, former director of the Baum Gallery of Fine Art at the University of Central Arkansas. “It’s just beautiful.
“The staff was great to work with. It just so happens that Donna Uptigrove, curator of exhibits, is a UCA graduate. And the show’s preparator and assistant curator, Carey Voss, is from Conway, a daughter of Ruth Voss and a graduate of Hendrix College. They have hung the show with great care.”
Satterfield said the exhibit continues her fascination with nature by incorporating found objects into ceramic sculptures but features a new finishing technique — oil paint combined with encaustic, a wax medium.
“I do my best to test physical boundaries: how high, how wide or how asymmetrical I can go while maintaining balance,” she said. “I like to pull tension from the foot of the form to the lip, like stretching a muscle. The combination of oil paint and encaustic allows me to reveal that flex in the fired clay with translucent, yet permanent, finishes.
“This has been a new way for me to work. I like it. I want to do more of it. I’m loving the color. In the past, my work has been mostly white.”
Satterfield’s work has been selected for juried exhibition since 1995. She received one of two Artistic Innovations grants awarded to Arkansans by the Mid-America Arts Alliance to tour her interactive figurative sculpture series, And Then, I: Monuments to Pivotal Moments, to public spaces across the state in 2014-15.
As an Artist INC Fellow and recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council Sally A. Williams Artist Trust Grant, Satterfield gives back to the Arkansas arts community through board memberships on the Arkansas
Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Committee of One Hundred to benefit the Ozark Folk Center. She also sponsors open-studio benefits and presents programs for artists and arts organizations.
Satterfield earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio ceramics and a Master of Arts degree in museum studies from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and served 10 years as director of UCA’s Baum Gallery. She and her husband, Jim Volkert, have a blended family of four children and seven grandchildren.
“At 66, I am very happy to still be working,” Satterfield said, laughing.
Satterfield plans to attend the 2nd Friday Art Night events at the museum from 5-8 p.m. Friday and again April 13. The public is invited to these two special events, which are free.
Admission to the Historic Arkansas Museum and its galleries is always free. Normal business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
The Historic Arkansas Museum, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, is at 200 E. Third St. in downtown Little Rock. For more information, call (501) 324-9351 or visit historicarkansas.org.