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story.lead_photo.caption Yelena Petroukhina drew upon her grandmother’s home in Russia to create the fired clay sculpture "Kransina Street Series." (Courtesy of Boswell Mourot Fine Art)

The past and the present, processes organic and digital, manifest in the artworks of Melissa Cowper-Smith.

The multimedia artist works with photography, computers, painting, encaustic and digital printing to create images that are printed on paper she makes from the plants in her garden at her Morrilton-area home.

Initially, Cowper-Smith planted cotton for papermaking, but is also using other plants from her garden. Her thick, richly textured, irregularly bordered papers include mulberry and herbs, particularly medicinal ones as she creates works inspired by her interviews with herbalists and folk healers in Arkansas.

Gallery: On the Artbeat!

Currently showing at Boswell Mourot Fine Art in Little Rock, Cowper-Smith shares the walls with Yelena Petroukhina, a Little Rock art teacher who explores a sense of home and identity in her paintings and intriguing works in clay. Their joint exhibition hangs through Saturday.

Melissa Cowper-Smith’s "She Let It Happen (It Wasn't Her Fault) is a pigment print on handmade paper. (Courtesy Boswell Mourot Fine Art)
Melissa Cowper-Smith’s "She Let It Happen (It Wasn't Her Fault) is a pigment print on handmade paper. (Courtesy Boswell Mourot Fine Art)

Cowper-Smith also is exploring pigment prints in a larger presentation -- She Let It Happen (It Wasn't Her Fault) is 55 by 42 inches. The interior scene of a living room is unsettling in its orderly center surrounded by seemingly disorderly radiance. What happened here? There is a sense of struggle, perhaps one to remember exactly what did happen.

Relief from Sorrow (star) is a visual, hopeful balm. The lovely Mom's Shirt and Heartache, a pigment print on handmade paper, encaustic and gouache paint, aches with emotion and beauty.

Petroukhina also has started a new body of work, "The Living Room Series." People are seemingly a ghostly presence in the mixed media works, while the rooms they inhabit are patterned and vary from very colorful to muted prints and patterns. Perhaps a statement on consumerism as a failed path to happiness? There is, or was, a connection between the people and their interiors (literal and metaphorical). Home is not always the refuge we seek.

One has a feeling in works such as Silence in Blue and Gray and Interiors Pink that Petroukhina is on to something. One of the works in this series hangs in the "61st Annual Delta Exhibition" at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Her clay sculptures are particularly fascinating. Petroukhina, who has studied at Penland School of Craft, was born in Bryansk, Russia. Her grandmother's home in Bryansk informs Kransina Street Series. The fired clay house has interior and exterior scenes in the glazes, executed in a way to suggest clarity and fading of memory.

An untitled fired clay house sculpture also has flamingos, lending a whimsical touch.

• Cowper-Smith will be showing more new works at the Loft Gallery in the Galleries at Library Square, 401 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. "Natural Treatment" opens Friday during Second Friday Art Night. A reception will be held 5-8 p.m.; the exhibit hangs through Sept. 28.

Melissa Cowper-Smith and Yelena Petroukhina, through Saturday, Boswell Mourot Fine Art, 5815 Kavanaugh Blvd. , Little Rock. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. (501) 664-0030.


Members of the Arkansas Society of Printmakers are showing their work at Gallery 26. "Hot Summer Prints" is an eclectic show that includes woodcuts, linocuts, etchings, reliefs, letter press, collagraphs and intaglios.

Some highlights: Neal Harrington's powerful woodcut with India ink wash depiction of sibling rivalry in Rival Sons, which evokes a major theme in his work -- rural culture viewed through mythology. One can easily see the Cain and Abel story from The Bible, among others, here. In Melissa Gill's gentle relief Namaste Namaskar, a woman is in a posture that acknowledges the divine within others. An elegant geometric print makes an appealing background.

"Transform" is the title of Melissa Gill’s relief with stitching on cotton. (Courtesy of Gallery 26)
"Transform" is the title of Melissa Gill’s relief with stitching on cotton. (Courtesy of Gallery 26)

It's always a pleasure to see work by Warren Criswell. His ominous linocut As the Crow Flies and his tense self-portrait, The Culvert, are strong. Lily Warren's Orb, an etching and aquatint, is magnetic. Tammy Harrington's uplifting Sky Vision (relief and letter press) inspires, while her reduction relief print Fusion seems a cool self-portrait. David Warren's etching and aquatint The Automatons and the Dreamers, is populated with mystical creatures.

Arkansas Society of Printmakers, "Hot Summer Prints," through July 13, Gallery 26, 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., Suite 1, Little Rock. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. (501) 664-8996.


The Arkansas Arts Center has produced a documentary about its long-running Delta Exhibition, the annual juried show of works by artists from Arkansas and the states that border it.

Delta 60 will premiere June 28 at the arts center. The film is directed by Matthew Rowe, digital media producer at the museum, and co-produced by Angel Galloway, director of marketing and communications.

A wine bar will open at 5:30 p.m., the film screens at 6 and a reception follows at 7.

Artists in the film include Melissa Cowper-Smith, Neal Harrington, cut paper and layered print artist Tammy Harrington, sculptor Robyn Horn, portrait artist Aj Smith, metalpoint artist Marjorie Williams-Smith, photographer Tim Hursley, multimedia artist Lisa Krannichfeld, quiltmaker and sculptor James Matthews and Dusty Mitchell, who creates art with found objects.

The Arkansas Arts Center's "61st Annual Delta Exhibition" closes June 30, the last day the galleries will be open. The museum begins a renovation and expansion this fall.

For information and tickets, call (501) 372-4000.


Style on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: Two diverse artists deal in multiple forms


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