The Arkansas Arts Council, along with the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Individual Artist Fellowship awards.

“The Individual Artist Fellowship program shines a spotlight on the amazing talent our state has to offer,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “The variety of categories this year show how diverse creatives in Arkansas are, and how art is essential in the economic development of our communities.”

This year, the Arts Council awarded  18 fellowships in six categories in partnership with the Windgate Foundation, a private family foundation with the goal of advancing contemporary craft and strengthening visual arts education in the United States.

“The Individual Artist Fellowship program recognizes artistic creative excellence,” said Jimmy Bryant, Arkansas Heritage director. “By providing financial support, the program enables award recipients to devote more time and energy to creating art and mastering their craft.”

Individual Artist Fellowship awards are unconditional, non-matching awards made directly to individual Arkansas artists. An independent panel annually selects artists in rotating categories to receive fellowships of $5,000 each. This year, artists from around the state submitted applications for the fellowships in these six categories: multisensory art, community engagement art, contemporary craft, performance art, visual arts and literary arts.

“This year’s competition was intense with a diversity of submissions coming from all over the state,” said Patrick Ralston, director of the Arkansas Arts Council. “The creatives who were chosen by the independent, professional panels showed exemplary work, dedication and talent to their creative endeavors.”

The Individual Artist Fellows will be recognized during a reception Friday, Sept. 30, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. The reception is free and open to the public.

This year’s recipients are: 

Multisensory Art
Amos Cochran of Van Buren is an Emmy-nominated composer, musician and sound artist. His work has been showcased at the Sundance, Berlin and Toronto film festivals, as well as The London Design Festival, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Unexpected and The University of Houston Brain Center. His A/V piece, “Memory Dissolve,” received the merit award at Artfields 2021 and will be part of FORMAT festival this fall.

Craig Colorusso of Rogers makes temporary and permanent work. All his pieces involve sound, or some sound and light, but they all present the opportunity for one to come and be present. His work has traveled across the U.S. and there are currently five permanent pieces in Northwest Arkansas.

Brande Wilkerson of Austin is a lifelong abstract artist. She enjoys different mediums of expression including multisensory installation, painting and futuristic costume design. She is an active and contributing member of the Cabot Foundation for Arts & Culture and Fenix Gallery Fayetteville.

Community Engagement Art
Lakisha Bradley of Fayetteville is a social-practice artist and founder of MY-T-BY-DESIGN Therapeutic Art Studios. Her work strengthens the mental wellness of communities – one paint stroke at a time – through events and workshops that have empowered over 10,000 people. Bradley, a licensed art therapist, has been a featured artist at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art for her community work.

Tanya Hollifield of Little Rock is an artist known for both her expressive, figurative drawings and her public engagement art projects with the community. Being an extroverted artist, she struggled with the solitude of the studio, but began to find a balance between studio work, art created on the streets and coordinating events that bring her community together. Being a part of the “we” has reinvigorated her and proved new inspiration to have others included.

Laura Shatkus of Fayetteville is a director, actor, producer and writer originally from Chicago where she worked and trained for a decade before receiving a Master of Fine Arts in acting from the University of Arkansas in 2015. She has since appeared in numerous feature films, commercials and theatre pieces in Northwest Arkansas and beyond.

Contemporary Craft
Liz Koerner of Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in furniture/woodworking from San Diego State University.  Koerner lives in Little Rock and works as the wood/fibers faculty chair at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Windgate Art School and teaches in the department of art and design at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

James Matthews of Little Rock is an artist who has a bias toward the human-made landscape, manual processes and the physical object. He uses traditional craft techniques, quilt-making in particular, to create work that explores the potential for transforming the world around us.

Dani Ives of Rogers is an artist and educator living in Northwest Arkansas. She creates highly detailed fiber art with wool fibers, a barbed needle and needle felting techniques that she calls “painting with wool.” Ives’ work focuses on creating emotional and imaginative connections between humans and nature.

Performance Art: Mississippi Delta Blues Contemporary Songwriting or Score
Charlotte Taylor of Jacksonville is a vocalist, songwriter and blues artist from Central Arkansas. Performing with her band, Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain, she has won several blues contests and continues to perform at events and festivals including the famed King Biscuit Blues Festival held yearly in Helena.

Crystina Smart of Rogers has a deep love of performing. This talented vocalist puts her distinctive sound to blues, soul and Southern rock classics, including original compositions that bring listeners back for more.

Benjamin Brenner of Little Rock is a self-taught singer/songwriter, slide guitar player and multi-instrumentalist. He leads the award-winning original blues and roots band Fonky Donkey and is a member of the Arkansas Blues Hall of Fame.

Visual Arts: Graphic Novel or Narrative
Sean Fitzgibbon of Fayetteville explores unusual, real places and events through his work. He has a Master of Fine Arts in art and has exhibited work throughout the U.S. He has a passion for making art and visual storytelling. His work explores the interconnectivity of the world, and he hopes his audience experiences the same admiration for our diverse yet kindred existence.

Robert Bean of Little Rock is a graduate of the school of visual art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He serves as the department chair of painting and drawing at the Museum School of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts and is an adjunct instructor of figure drawing at UALR. His work can be found in public and private collections nationally.

Kasten Searles of Little Rock is a painter, illustrator, designer and a visiting professor of art at Arkansas Tech University. She creates works of painting and illustration in her Little Rock home studio and exhibits works nationally. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in design from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, and her Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Dallas.

Literary Arts: Flash Fiction or Flash Creative Nonfiction
Leah Harris of Hot Springs is a copywriter by trade, crafting appeals for some of the country’s most influential nonprofit organizations. In her personal work, she enjoys writing both observational essays and stories for kids. She was honored last year with a BIPOC award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for her manuscript “Architect for All.”

Joy Clark of Fayetteville received her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she currently works for local nonprofits Art Ventures and The Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow. Her work can be read in Bayou Magazine, Pleiades, Juked and The Kenyon Review Online, among other places. She is working on a novel.

Lily Buday of Fayetteville is a writer of assorted fictions and nonfictions, with work appearing in Chautauqua, GASHER and Joyland. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from the University of Arkansas, where she has been the recipient of a Harrison/Whitehead Founders’ Fellowship and a James E. & Ellen Wadley Roper Fellowship in creative writing.

Arkansas Arts Council
The Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of Arkansas Heritage, advances the arts in Arkansas by providing services and supporting arts endeavors that encourage and assist literary, performing and visual artists in achieving standards of professional excellence. In addition, the Arkansas Arts Council provides technical and financial assistance to Arkansas arts organizations and other providers of cultural and educational programs. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Arkansas Heritage
Arkansas Heritage was created in 1975. There are eight agencies with unique heritage focuses under the umbrella of this division: Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Jimmy Bryant serves as director of the division.

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Stacy Hurst serves as the cabinet secretary for the department.