Springdale Canoe Maker Named 2024 Arkansas Living Treasure ​

Springdale Canoe Maker Named 2024 Arkansas Living Treasure  ​
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Arkansas Arts Council
Friday, April 19th 2024
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WASHINGTON, Ark. — The Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of Arkansas Heritage, is pleased to announce Liton Beasa as the 2024 Arkansas Living Treasure for his work and dedication to the craft of canoe building. A public announcement will be made at noon on Saturday, April 21, at Historic Washington State Park during the James Black’s Bowie Heritage Festival.

“Liton Beasa, a master crafter, has dedicated himself to honing, sharing and preserving the art of canoe carving, a craft passed down through generations in the Marshallese community,” said Shea Lewis, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “His expertise not only enriches Arkansas but also serves as a testament to the state’s commitment to craft through our natural resources. As a valued member of our Living Treasure program, Mr. Beasa embodies the spirit of The Natural State.”

The Arkansas Living Treasure program annually recognizes an Arkansas creative who excels in a traditional craft or folk art and who preserves and advances their craft through community outreach and teaching others. Beasa is known in the Marshallese community as a top outrigger builder with decades of experience.

Arkansas is home to the largest population of Marshallese people outside of the Marshall Islands. Beasa, who was making canoes by 10 years old, moved to Arkansas in 2013. Since then, he has collaborated with the Shiloh Museum in Springdale and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, among others, on programs that celebrate, honor and recognize his craft through community building, exhibits and education. Beasa’s on-site construction of a kōrkōr, a traditional Marshallese wooden canoe, has brought together people in Northwest Arkansas and provided a venue of cultural exchange and understanding.

“The Arkansas Living Treasure program is an excellent way for us to recognize those who have dedicated their careers to sharing their creativity and mastery of skill,” said Marty Ryall, director of Arkansas Heritage. “Mr. Beasa was building traditional outriggers by himself by age 26, creating more than 50 canoes, before becoming a mentor and teacher for the craft.”

Beasa was chosen by an independent panel of judges. He will be honored at a special ceremony in Springdale on May 31 as part of the celebration of Jemenei Day. For the first time, the Arkansas Arts Council and Arkansas Heritage will award a grant meant to encourage and support the continuation of traditional craft, as part of the Arkansas Living Treasure Award program.

“We are excited to recognize Mr. Beasa and to participate in the celebration of him and his craft,” said Patrick Ralston, director of the Arkansas Arts Council. “He has extensive knowledge of the complex construction and traditional methods of canoe building and has been dedicated to preserving a traditional craft that highlights the diverse fabric of our Arkansas creative community.”

For more information about the Arkansas Living Treasure Award, contact Scarlet Sims, artist services manager, at 501-324-9348 or [email protected]. To learn more about the Arkansas Arts Council, visit ArkansasArts.org.

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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 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.


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