District art galleries open in partnership with UAFS

A piece by college professor Jarrod Cluck hangs above a reading area in Bookish, part of downtown The Bakery District.

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith and The Bakery District have officially opened their art series, “The District Art Galleries”, to bring fine art to unconventional spaces in the community.

In addition, the university also has a permanent collection on campus in the Windgate Gallery.

The goal of the partnership is to create a forum for community engagement in the arts.

The university’s Art and Design Gallery and Department of Art and Design has appointed its Gallery Director, Matthew Bailey, to choose three adjunct professors, Mary Elkins, Jarrod Cluck and Owen Buffington to exhibit their latest projects .

Mary Elkins does work focused on memory, motherhood and family. She works with fiber, clay and other household objects. The love of cataloging and remembering important but mostly small and mundane moments in life has inspired much of her work.

Pieces woven by Mary Elkins, an assistant professor at the university, hang above shelves inside Bookish, part of the Bakery District.

Elkins received her BFA in ceramics from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2008 and her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Crafts and Materials Studies in 2011.

Jarrod Cluck works with locally collected native plants, scraps and salvaged iron objects. He uses prints and videos to tell the same old story of knowledge lost and rediscovered, except through the perspective of a natural Ozark.

Cluck graduated from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith in 2015 with a BA and from the University of Hartford’s Nomad MFA program in 2020 with an MFA before returning to teach at his alma mater.

An interactive journal opens with fountain pens for guests to leave their mark, a project by university art professor Jarrod Cluck.

Owen Buffington is a multimedia artist whose work explores the intersection of geography and the visual arts – in particular the role drawing plays in how we describe, define and organize everyday spaces.

Owen earned an MFA, majoring in drawing, from the University of Arkansas in 2017, and has taught at universities, community art nonprofits, and public schools.

The artists’ inaugural exhibition, “Process/Experience/Place,” will run from June 1 through September 18, with a reception celebrating the installation and partnership to be announced shortly.

The visit is free and the exhibition is open to the public during the opening hours of the Boulangerie merchants.

Katie Waugh, chair of the art and design department, said the space will be a new visual art center to expand the presence of the university’s art department in the downtown area.

“It’s a vital forum for contemporary art that I hope the UAFS and Fort Smith communities will enjoy,” she said.

Matthew Bailey, director of the university gallery, points to a work by professor and artist Jarrod Cluck.

New exhibitions will be quarterly with the aim of developing an ongoing and competitive program of modern and impactful installations that truly engage the community.

Bailey said the art galleries in the district will also be a training ground for students in art gallery practice.

“The training aspect is primarily for art students to gain experience in art manipulation and the gallery, although volunteer opportunities are open to any interested student,” he said. . “Volunteers will help with exhibition facilities and in the future we hope to use this venue as part of our developing academic program in art management and museum practice.”