Musician, craftivist Donna Mulhollan tackles climate change

Musician, craftivist Donna Mulhollan tackles climate change

“I don’t like using the word artist. I’m a musician, and I like to dabble in crafts and use them for causes. So craftivist really seems to fit better to me,” Donna Mulhollan says of her ongoing work related to social and environmental causes.

She is half of the folk duo, Still on the Hill, with her husband Kelly Mulhollan. They are known as “ambassadors of the Ozarks” and are past recipients of the Arkansas Governor’s Folk Life Award. Their music and art have been behind efforts to raise awareness for numerous causes in the area.

Over the pandemic shutdown, Donna created and auctioned off a series of colorful, needle-felted birds to raise money for 7hills Homeless Center. Later, Still on the Hill held a concert and silent auction of the birds to raise money for the Arkansas Audubon Society Halberg Ecology Camp and Northsong Wild Bird Rehabilitation.

Again they are using their voices and strings for a series titled “Darkness of the Womb” at Sequoyah Hall on the Mount Sequoyah campus in Fayetteville. The title of the series alludes to civil rights leader Valarie Kaur’s quote: “The future, it is dark, but what if the darkness is the not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb.”

“The environment and climate changes have been at the core of what Kelly and I care about the most,” Mulhollan explains. “All the other issues are equally as important, but if we don’t have a habitable planet, it’s not going to matter that much.”

“Darkness of the Womb,” which will feature music by Still on the Hill against the backdrop of her latest eco-inspired series of art, is an exploration of climate change, eco-anxiety and hope.

“Even though it feels sometimes so hopeless right now — like we’re past the tipping point — nobody really knows,” she says. To deal with her “eco-anxiety,” Mulhollan naturally turned to her crafting, creating large portraits of The Lorax, Greta Thunberg, Mr. Rogers and others to inspire hope for the future in the viewer.

The opening reception will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 with music by Still on the Hill. There will also be gatherings and invitational song circles from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 8, Feb. 15 and Feb. 22 in Sequoyah Hall, during which Mulhollan will be available to talk about craftivism.

She will also share information about the Ozark Chinquapin Chestnut Foundation during the first reception. The Ozark Chinquapin Chestnut was believed to be extinct, but the foundation is “working to establish a viable seed base through research and cross-pollination of blight-resistant trees,” according to its website. There’s even a plot at Hobbs State Park dedicated to trying to reestablish the tree.

Mulhollan sees the Ozark Chinquapin Chestnut as a symbol of hope.

“In a world where we are losing so many species, it is heartening to know we are bringing back an important and indigenous Ozark tree,” she exclaims. At 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, Steve Chyrchel will give a presentation about the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation at Mount Sequoyah.

Once word got out about the “Darkness of the Womb” series, Mulhollan also decided to host two climate cafes with counselor/activist Joanna Person-Michener, LPC MS, which are now booked to capacity.

“These are kind of a trial, and if they work really well, and they go really well, then we might try to start doing them at other venues,” she says, adding that if people are interested that they can reach out to Still on the Hill through email about future climate cafes.

“There are so many people that are struggling with their feelings of anxiety, fear, denial, anger about what’s going on in the world. And climate cafes are just a safe zone for people to just talk about their feelings. … A lot of people don’t want to listen or talk about it, and they’re scared, especially young people,” she says. Climate cafes and events such as the “Darkness of the Womb” series are “an opportunity to share feelings. And I just think that’s an important thing right now in our place in the world.”


‘Darkness of the Womb’

WHAT — A series of informal gatherings about craftivism and climate change with art by Donna Mulhollan, music by Still on the Hill and later invitational song circles.

WHEN — Opening reception, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 2. with music by Still on the Hill. Gallery open every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from noon to 2 p.m. and extended hours 2-4 p.m on Feb. 8, Feb. 15 and Feb. 22. A special presentation by Steve Chyrchel on the Ozark Chinquapin Chestnut tree will begin at 6:30 p.m Feb. 24.

WHERE — Sequoyah Hall on the campus of Mount Sequoyah, 150 N. Skyline Drive in Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO— Email

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