So Much To Say

So Much To Say

Artist Kevin Arnold comments on current events


Kevin Arnold worries. And he’s convinced he’s not alone. Americans, he says, have been “left in a perpetual state of mental and physical malnutrition” brought on by the “unrestrained flow of media that we allow into our personal space at every turn at every minute of the day.”

“At the national level we receive untold of doses of political hatred, divisiveness [and] lies,” says the artist, whose work is on show in August at Fenix Fayetteville. “We witness global sea levels rising before our very eyes. … We scroll through images of immigrant children in cages … Two or more generations now have been medicated on anti-depression/anti-anxiety drugs, yet the suicide rate among Americans is up 25 percent since 1999.

“As a way of processing the whirlwind of emotions surrounding this daily circus of misinformation, we retreat back to the safety of our tribes,” Arnold elaborates. “They protect us from anything that might puncture the bubble. [But] you can’t escape it, I can’t escape it, and as an artist I do feel a certain responsibility to confront these issues first hand.”

Born in Van Buren and raised in Barling, Arnold says “growing up pre-internet in a small town in the ’80s and ’90s, the opportunities for viewing art was few and far between. The nearest art museum was four to six hours away, and the only art that hung in our house was the painting of a snow leopard by my aunt Melva.

“I think there were two simple factors that contributed to my early love of visual art: an innate love of color, and being an only child. Some of my earliest memories are the sensation of experiencing color, and being an only child would prepare me for the solitary nature that goes with the territory of being a painter.”

Arnold earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting at the University of Arkansas and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has served as adjunct faculty for both institutions. But he gave everything up — including his home studio in Rudy — to travel the country for the past four years and engage in a dialogue with local art communities.

It was the election in 2016 that produced the “major turning point both in my art and how I viewed my role as an artist,” says Arnold. “I began embracing all of my past interests, influences, as if everything was free to go into the pot, with no apologies. That’s what the viewer starts to see in these recent paintings. References to narrative, trompe l’oeil, graffiti, expressionism, photorealism, animation and collage, but hopefully what is most telling with this new work is the shift from the everyday simple mundane to the overriding sense of anxiety and dread that seems to be so pervasive in this country right now.

“At this point in my life it’s not only forced me to reexamine my role as an painter, but also as a way of reflecting on the bigger steps (or missteps) that brought us to this point.”

Artwork courtesy Kevin Arnold
Artist Kevin Arnold says his new work can be as “confrontational as a painted portrait of Senator Tom Cotton in partial clown make-up or maybe more subtle moments where things might not always be so obvious at first glance, but with a little time spent looking the message is clearly there, undeniable, right in front of your eyes.”



Artist’s Reception:

Kevin Arnold’s

‘Wishful Misgivings’

WHEN — 5-9 p.m. Aug. 2

WHERE — Fenix Gallery, 16 W. Center St. in Fayetteville

COST — Free


Categories: Galleries