The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly reduced the entertainment and cultural options for nearly everyone in the country, but one museum in Jonesboro will hold an exhibition to showcase artists in the Mid-South region.
“Radius I” will open in the Bradbury Art Museum at Arkansas State University with a public reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10, and the exhibit continues through Nov. 4.
Radius I is a survey of the cultural ecosystem of the region collaboratively curated by BAM team members Hillary Brooks, Haley Voges and Garry Holstein. The exhibition, shown in four of BAM’s six galleries, highlights works by 38 artists who live or work within 180 miles in any direction of BAM.
Due to the pandemic, the museum will have a limited capacity of 60 visitors, and walk-in groups may not exceed 10 people. Groups larger than 10 should call ahead for a reservation.
BAM staff will be wearing face coverings and taking other steps to help ensure a safe experience. Guests also are required to wear face coverings and maintain a distance of six feet from other guests. The new hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
The goal of this exhibition is to help identify a regional sense of place and connect with the artists and organizations who drive it. The initial distance of 180 miles was established for two reasons. The first is that it creates a diameter of 360, which is the same as the number of degrees in a circle. The second reason is the distance is an easily manageable drive of three to four hours. This is meant to make future collaborations more manageable and lessen the impact on the artists. It also increases the likelihood that individuals from their network would want to be involved in the future.
Artists from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee are featured.
“Drawing from a diversity of backgrounds and methods of practice, we have established the starting point for a dialogue about place. The voices that make up this conversation are drawn from rural and urban settings, traditional and experimental methods, and professional and early career artists,” said museum director Garry Holstein.
Each member of the BAM team spent time researching artists within the geographical boundary, and then came together to make their final decisions. The search was framed with the overarching goal of identifying artists who were new to BAM and those whose networks would allow the staff to connect with the range of different communities within the scope of the circle.
The secondary goal was to strike a balance between showcasing the diversity of content and methods of making within the group, and curating the selection in such a way that created a structure for the conversation to take place. The selected artists submitted samples of their work and the BAM team then worked together to weave an underlying conceptual and aesthetic structure.
For the first Radius exhibition, the BAM staff chose to create a separate, dedicated space for the NEA Artist Collective to emphasize their goal to work with the local artists group and to celebrate the headway they have forged in the development of the local art scene. In future exhibitions in the series, Jonesboro and surrounding area artists will be able to respond to the general call for entries.
“Working with the NEA Artist Collective has been a goal of BAM for the past few years, and Radius I is the perfect context in which to do so. By dedicating an entire gallery to local artists for this exhibition, we can work together to grow the Jonesboro art scene and provide opportunities to local artists,” said BAM curator Hillary Brooks. “I’m delighted to see this all come together and cannot wait for everyone to see this exhibition.”
Radius I will serve local schools as the inspirational content for the annual “Inspired” show, which features area students creating a piece based on an artwork they see during a visit to BAM. In 2019, over 200 students from the 11 invited counties participated. BAM is changing the rules a bit this year and allowing for students to be inspired virtually so that the museum can continue to be as inclusive as possible.
“In a time of many cancellations and uncertainties, BAM’s goal is to ensure the continuation of the ‘Inspired’ program. It is important to us to make every adjustment necessary to simplify the process for students and teachers who are already dealing with so much change. I’m excited to engage with the community again and can’t wait to see the creativity that comes out of this year,” said BAM education coordinator Haley Voges.