Watch Women (Metal)Work

Watch Women (Metal)Work

Exhibit forges space for inclusion


Every other year, the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts curates a traveling exhibition of female Arkansas artists titled “Arkansas Women to Watch.” The committee is an affiliate of the national museum in Washington, D.C., and the artists are the committee’s nominees for a biennial competition that takes place at the nation’s capital.

“We are the only affiliate of the National Museum that tours the work of all the nominees,” ACNMWA president Barbara Satterfield points out.

Each affiliate gets one artist included in the national event, but the Arkansas committee chooses to nominate and spotlight a group of artists for each juried selection process.

“The Arkansas Committee is serving the public here in that it not only helps recognize Arkansas women artists, it also contributes to the cultural life of our state,” Satterfield adds of the exhibition continuing its statewide tour. “People understand that … there’s a use value of art when it’s purchased, of course. But there’s also the use value of inspiring discussion, conversation. And that is the cultural capital. [We hope] to let that be something that we all own and understand and embrace rather than thinking it’s for somewhere else.”

The 2019 exhibition, “Heavy Metal,” premiered at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in January and is now on display at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale through July 27. Robyn Horn is primarily a wood sculptor but is fascinated with rust and often incorporates rusty metals into her works. Here, Horn answers a few questions for What’s Up! about her inclusion in the exhibition.

Q. How would you describe your work to a viewer?

A. There are two different series of my work represented in the exhibition. The Steelwork Series was made a few years ago and involved a new technique I had learned using a milling machine. I have always been attracted to steel and to rust, so this process allowed me to make a standing slab, carve geometric forms into the steel, and weld it to a perpendicular base to allow it to stand up. This process resulted in work that I could not have made in wood, simply because of its stability.

The Industrial Series work that is in the exhibition is more recent and currently ongoing. These works are a combination of wood and steel with the surfaces of both components made to look as if they are disintegrating somewhat and worn-looking. The deterioration of both materials is what allows them to coexist within the same work, one seemingly distressed material augmenting the other. The idea is that the viewer would consider the work as some kind of mechanism that had a function, it’s just not clear what that function might be. I am just asking someone to spend a few more minutes with each sculpture to determine what it might have been used for in an industrial setting, when there actually is not one.

Q. Is there a deeper significance for you in blending a natural material like wood with rigid materials like metal and iron?

A. The metal pieces that I search out to use in my work have unique machined aspects to them, unusual cuts and angles that satisfy the geometric interest I have always had. The forms and the surfaces of my work are the two most important concerns I have when making sculpture.

Q. What comes to mind when you hear the term “heavy metal” and what do you hope viewers think of on hearing the term after seeing the exhibition?

A. This term “heavy metal” always makes me think of music, of different bands that were categorized that way. I would have to say that should someone pick up the work I have made, they would indeed think it is very heavy. My guess is that the title was coined to suggest that there are many ways to use metal, and I think the variety in this exhibition shows examples of several different approaches to using metal that are successful.

Q. Is there anything else you feel is important for viewers to know about your work, your process, or women in metal work?

A. The women in this exhibition are all very serious, dedicated artists who just happen to have a medium in common. I think it is important to have exhibitions that focus on different materials, but mostly I feel that the work in this show is well crafted and that a lot of thought and effort has gone into making it.



‘Women to Watch 2019: Heavy Metal’

WHEN — Through July 27

WHERE — Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale

COST — Free to view


Categories: Galleries