Artists share their journeys in ‘Frame of Mind’

Artists share their journeys in ‘Frame of Mind’

“There is everything to be said about cultural survival and the nuanced battles required to protect the core of oneself from annihilation,” reads the promotional material for “Frame of Mind,” an Art Ventures exhibit currently on show at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center in Fayetteville. “Like the drumbeat, art informs us of individual battles won and lost, telling us that we are still here, still connected, still creating pathways to cultural survival and growth. This exhibition, ‘Frame of Mind,’ is one such drumbeat in the vast cultural context of Blackness in the diaspora, and its plan to thrive.”

Although the nonprofit is currently without a home, Art Ventures continues to innovate and thrive. The building where it was located on the Fayetteville square was sold last year, and businesses housed there had to move out around the first of the year, according to James Jackson, operations manager. Meanwhile, “we continue to have a presence in the Pryor Center (Lee Ann Dodson’s work), Eclectic Kitchen, the Chamber of Commerce, where we’ve shown work for four years, and we’re in our second year at the Faulkner Center,” says Jackson.

And the observance of Black History Month continues with “some of the best accomplished and rising Black artists from around the country,” among them local creatives Sharon Killian and Zora Murff, who answered these questions for The Free Weekly.

Q. What inspired you to become an artist — an image, a person, an exhibition?

Killian: This is a good question, especially for me, since I have been at this long enough for the memories to blur. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve looked at the visual world around me as series of compositions. I’d look at the sky and put virtual frames around parts of it as if capturing it for myself. Even now as I say this I can see in my mind’s eye an image from my childhood of a composition of zinc siding worn by the elements, the variation of color and line from the pattern of the form as light creates shadow on its surface.

Murff: I knew I wanted to be an artist after seeing a Sally Mann photograph of her children. It was in the permanent collection at the Des Moines Art Center; I saw it in my early 20s. I started taking my own photographs shortly after.

Q. What did you do to follow that inspiration to fruition?

Killian: Nearing the end of middle school I decided that I wanted to go to an art high school. I took the entrance exam and failed. But in art classes at Brandeis High School on 84th Street, I learned from good teachers who noticed. I got to college on a pre-med scholarship but earned degrees in art and art history. Because of my own experience, I can say it was and is my calling; I had to be an artist.

Murff: I purchased a camera and enrolled in some introductory photography courses. After feeling it out a bit, I committed to going back to school to study art.

Q. Was your ethnicity a hindrance in that process? Or was it part of the inspiration? Or both?

Killian: Black people live with the negative effects of racism no matter how much we know and appreciate our own worth. There is always hindrance. I navigate my life knowing that and still work to create and achieve and inspire others to connect to their own core where being who you are exists.

Murff: An inspiration. I didn’t have a grasp of how beautiful and complex my own identity was until I started studying art.




‘Frame of Mind’

WHEN — Through March 6

WHERE — Faulkner Performing Arts Center on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville

COST — Free


BONUS — Also showing their work are Oluwatobi Adewumi, Eric Andre, Morgan Bame, Candace Dolls, Najee Dorsey, Carl Karni-Bain, Delita Martin and Joelle Storet.

Categories: Galleries