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story.lead_photo.caption Growing Memories, by Melissa “Mo” Lashbrook

— Melissa “Mo” Lashbrook of Cabot is among 25 artists who will be featured in the 2018 Arkansas Fiber Arts Exhibition, which opens Monday in the gallery of the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock.

This is the third year for the fiber arts exhibition and the second year it will be at the main branch of the Laman Library System. Rachel Trusty of Russellville continues as curator of the show.

The show will be on display through Jan. 5, with an opening reception set for 6-8 p.m. Friday. The exhibition and the opening reception are free to attend, and no tickets are required.

This is the first time Lashbrook has participated in the fiber arts exhibit.

“I am honored to be included with so many talented fiber artists,” said Lashbrook, a native Arkansan who labels herself as “an assemblage artist.”

“I began my artistic process as a child during time spent painting with my mother and building with my father,” she said. “Now, my primary source of inspiration for my diverse subject matter comes from life experiences and collecting curious things. My art is characterized by delicate textures, rich colors and upcycled materials.”

Lashbrook studied fine arts at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and the Institute for Shipboard Education’s Semester at Sea. She served a tour of duty in Iraq as a combat helicopter pilot and is an art educator for the Cabot School District and her two children. She has exhibited her art in several group exhibitions, and her artwork is in many private residences.

Most recently, Lashbrook was selected to participate in Artist INC Live Argenta, sponsored by the Mid-America Arts Foundation in partnership with the Argenta Arts Foundation.

“This program has been instrumental in helping me grasp the business side of art and develop a peer network of artists for support,” she said.

Lashbrook said her work “is a collection of materials and techniques that explore meaning through everyday rituals and human connections. I am interested in the cycle of life, how energy is recycled through time and how personal choice plays a part in it.”

Her work in the show is titled Growing Memories. She said the artwork explores her connection to her grandmother, of whom she has fond memories of the time the two of them used to quilt and garden together.

“After her death in 2015, I was inspired to keep those memories close. I began sewing, using the textiles she collected over her life in many of my art pieces. Over time, I realized that many of the patterns she selected are actually growing in my own garden today,” Lashbrook said.

“This realization led me to find a way to connect the two. By capturing the essence of my garden with cyanotype and painting, sewing her textiles into soft sculptural roots and piecing them together, I believe I have honored her in a way that reflects the connection that was shared with me as a child,” Lashbrook said.

“My hope is that Growing Memories reminds viewers to savor and appreciate the little things,” she said. “Sometimes they end up being the big things.

“I am very excited to see others’ reaction to my Growing Memories series. The exhibit will feature nine artworks from the series. I am working toward 35 artworks in total — one for each year I knew my grandmother.”

Trusty said the fiber arts show “has grown every year in terms of participants. I look throughout the year for fiber artists in Arkansas to invite. This is the first year I invited male fiber artists to participate.”

“The first year, I really wanted the show to be all women because of the history of fiber arts and to promote more female artists,” Trusty said. “I was open the second year to male fiber artists, but I did not know of any at that time in Arkansas, so it was only female artists again. This past year, I have come across a handful of excellent male artists working in quilting and mixed-media fibers in Arkansas, so I was very excited to have them participate.

“I changed the name of the show from the Arkansas Women’s Fiber Arts Exhibition to the Arkansas Fiber Arts Exhibition to accommodate the shift. I hope to continue to have men participate in the show going forward. The fiber exhibition is already on the schedule for the Argenta Branch of the Laman Library System next fall for [the show’s] fourth year.”

Gallery hours at the William F. Laman Public Library, 2801 Orange St. in North Little Rock, are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The gallery is closed on Sundays. Call (501) 758-1720 for more information.

For more information about the exhibition, visit www.racheltrusty.com/arfiberartexhibition.

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