Seeing the latest exhibitions at The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) is as easy as picking up your phone to check the latest social media update.
During the museum’s public closure in response to COVID-19, staff members launched four virtual art exhibitions on ASC’s website. These online exhibitions allow for just about anyone with internet access to view the artworks at any time, according to ASC.
One of those exhibitions is “One Million Strong: A Photographic Tribute of the Million Man March.” Pine Bluff native and Dollarway High School graduate Roderick Terry captured a defining moment in American history on Oct. 16, 1995. Black men from all over the United States came together in Washington, D.C., for a day of atonement and reconciliation. Terry’s photos capture moments of excitement, jubilance, thoughtfulness, seriousness, togetherness and peacefulness during the massive demonstration.
The 360-degree virtual exhibition allows a viewer to move around with a few swipes or clicks to explore the exhibition as if touring the gallery in person, and each artwork can be enlarged with just a tap or click. “One Million Strong” can now also be viewed in person in ASC’s William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery through Sept. 19.
ASC reopened to the public June 2 with safety guidelines in place — among those, visitors (excluding ages 10 and younger) are required to wear masks, and the number of visitors is limited to 10 at any one time, according to ASC.
To help cultivate a touchless experience for visitors, QR codes posted in the galleries are available for visitors to look up additional artwork information instead of handling printed catalogs. Visitors can view interviews with artists and informational videos using their cell phones to scan each QR code.
Another exhibition that visitors can tour online or in person is “From the Vault: Works from the Permanent Collection.” Highlighting recent acquisitions to ASC’s permanent collection, “From the Vault” demonstrates ASC’s commitment to collecting the artwork of Arkansas artists, African American artists and artists of the Delta. Artists include Dustyn Bork, Norwood Creech, Rex Deloney and Rashawn Penister.
With the COVID-19 pandemic not only closing museums but sending students home, a little extra creativity was required for the latest Annual Pine Bluff High School Art Exhibition. The longtime showcase of PBHS art students is exclusively online this year.
The virtual exhibition includes 20 artworks and accompanying statements by the 18 artists: Artiea Allen, Aiyana Arnold, Quinton Battles, Cason Blunt, Latavia Burrell, Zakiya Dean, Jameisha Donson, Elizabeth Duncan, Tyler Foots, Kalan Gardner, Rosalyn James, Terry Jasper, Tilton Rhodes, Aaliyha Shavers, Jayla Spellman, Grace Swygert, Kendahl Taylor and Dreion Thomas.
This year’s themes were “Black Excellence” and “Black is Beautiful.”
PBHS teacher Shalisha Thomas — who earlier this year won a prestigious Milken Educator Award — lead the students and selected the artwork for the show.
“I charged the students with finding an African American artist’s style to help guide their artistic choices,” she said. “The artworks reflect beauty and the achievements of African Americans,” Thomas said.
The students were also offered an opportunity for extra credit, inspired by a popular photography “challenge” circulating on social media during the quarantine. The original project was to re-stage famous works of art using people and household objects. In a twist of the original concept, the students were asked to recreate their own artworks.
“Many of the artists created works centering around black excellence or beauty they find in celebrities or influences outside of themselves,” ASC Curator Chaney Jewell explained. “But, by re-staging their artwork with the artists themselves as the subject, they are now the example of Black being beautiful and Black Excellence.”
The virtual tours also allow an exhibition to live on after the artwork has been removed from the walls. “Whimsy & Flights of Fancy,” which ended during ASC’s public closure, continues online. The exhibition paired sculptures from the Arkansas Arts Center’s Toys Designed by Artists collection with paintings by Eric Freeman, Katherine Strause and Sherry J. Williamson.
ASC’s virtual exhibitions can be viewed at asc701.org/virtual-exhibitions.
“One Million Strong” is sponsored by Simmons Bank, the Annual Pine Bluff High School Art Exhibition is sponsored by Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel Co., and “From the Vault” is sponsored by the Kline Family Foundation.
The Arts & Science Center, 701 S. Main St. in Pine Bluff, is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and closed Sunday and Monday. Gallery admission is free. Support for ASC is provided in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission. ASC is a member of the Discovery Network, a statewide program of the Museum of Discovery. For more information and to sign up for upcoming event announcements, visit asc701.org.
ASC_Terry, R_Positive Reflections.jpg — “Positive Reflections” is one of the images from “One Million Strong: A Photographic Tribute of the Million Man March by Roderick Terry.” A collection of photos Pine Bluff native Terry captured during the historic march in Washington, D.C., in 1995 is on display at The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas and at asc701.org.
ASC_Terry, R_My Any Means Necessary.jpg — “By Any Means Necessary” is one of the images from “One Million Strong: A Photographic Tribute of the Million Man March by Roderick Terry.” A collection of photos Pine Bluff native Terry captured during the historic march in Washington, D.C., in 1995 is on display at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas and at asc701.org.
ASC_From The Vault_Penister.jpg — Rashawn Penister’s “Patience” is on view at The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas as part of “From the Vault: Works from the Permanent Collection.” The virtual tour of the exhibition is at asc701.org.
ASC_PBHS 2020 Exhibition_Dean.jpg — (From left) Pine Bluff High School student Zakiya Dean, “Double the Extraordinary,” marker on paper; and her restaging. The Annual Pine Bluff High School Art Exhibition is exclusively online this year, at asc701.org.