SAAC is thrilled to host the traveling exhibit for Paper Routes: Arkansas Women to Watch in the Merkle Gallery March 29 – May 26. Joli Livaudais, Kim Brewer, Linda Nguyen Lopez, and Suzannah Schreckhise bring work that explores our relationship to paper, and as contemporary artists, they use traditional methods as well as employing new conceptual uses for paper as their chosen art medium.

Associate Professor of Art at UALR, Joli Livaudais brings two exhibits: Imperata Grassland and All That I Love. Livaudais says, “During a dark time in my life, I began photographing whatever humble instances of interest or beauty I could find as a way to cling to the current moment and find reasons to keep going.”  She says that many of the photographs were of green, living things, especially wild grass. “In Imperata Grassland, I fold specially prepared photographs printed on mulberry paper into pieces inspired by the shapes and movement of wild grass. The installation refuses to be predictable or contained and flows from the floor to the walls.”

Her installation All That I Love represented Arkansas at the national level. She says, “In this ongoing installation, I transform photographs into origami scarab beetles – an ancient Egyptian symbol for death and transformation. While they are creatures of hidden and dark places, they create new life from detritus and feces, and they can be gloriously colorful and vibrant.”

Livaudais continues, “Personal photographs record moments we find beautiful, interesting, or important. Using the transformational art of origami, I have folded these memories into beetles. Reduced to their elemental parts, the photographs become merely paper, the remnants of the memories they represent glimpsed only in fragments of sparkling color.”

Little Rock artist Kim Brewer brings Rosebud Moments in Paper Planes, the title referencing Citizen Kane and the idea that everyone has a “rosebud”, a moment in life that no one knows about, but that would explain a person’s character. The work began as an experimentation in papermaking. Exploring the mug shot as a kind of image in her oil painting, she struggled with the realistic quality of the images. Brewer says, “The epiphany came when I was introduced to pulp painting. Pulp painting requires one to work blindly, adding dyed cotton linter pulp into a mould and deckle. One can only keep an image in one’s mind while working, as it is not accessible to the maker until the piece is dried and pulled from the mould.”

Assistant Professor of Art at the U of A in Fayetteville, Linda Nguyen Lopez brings a free standing sculptural piece, Ghost Hands. According to Lopez, “The series explores the persistent presence of the absent. These observations of indefinable moments reflect not the beginning or the end of a relationship, but the abstracted instance of connectivity. These pieces search for the unseen thread that connects people and things that once shared an intangible moment.” She continues, “In this realm, logic is lost, objects are personified, perception is ever-changing, and things become their true selves.”

Suzannah Schreckhise from Fayetteville brings Who Belongs on Our Money? Schrekhise says, “One route to power in the USA is paper currency. When we don’t have enough, we stress about getting it, and when we have enough, we stress about keeping it. This power is not just material, but symbolic.” The mixed media work explores the question of why aren’t women or people of color represented on our currency. She has replaced the portrait of Washington on real dollars with figures in more than 100 different skin tones. She explains that she did so in order to “draw attention to the symbolic power of paper money and to explore the impact of a more inclusive value system.”

Since 1989, the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts has organized exhibitions by Arkansas women. Paper Routes is the fifth based on the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC) Women to Watch series. ACNMWA President Barbara Satterfield says that the organization’s mission is to promote and support Arkansas women artists.

Paper Routes was the sixth installment in NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, a collaboration between the museum and its twenty-three US and international outreach committees. Consulting curators based in the sites of participating committees created shortlists of artists working with paper, from which NMWA curators selected the artists who represented their diverse locations. Works of paper are surprising in their sheer diversity and complexity of forms. This eclecticism demonstrates the ability of paper to bend to artists’ most imaginative visions. – Virginia Treanor, Associate Curator, and Orin Zahra, Assistant Curator, National Museum of Women in the Arts