WorkShare Night Celebrates Local Arts, Artists

Featured Image Annika Wade presents her artwork May 21 during Artist INC Live in Little Rock.
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Scarlet Sims

Artist Services Manager

Tuesday, May 21st 2024
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LITTLE ROCK -- More than 100 arts lovers turned out recently to see exhibits and hear from Central Arkansas creatives who presented their artworks and artistic journeys during a celebration, WorkShare event at Arkansas Heritage on May 21.

“Seeing the audience connect with my work and reimagine the role of sound in their lives truly excited me,” artist Cedric Black said in email after the event. He was among 17 creatives to make presentations about his work.

The exhibitions and artist talks were part of Artist INC LIVE, an eight-weeklong, professional-development course administrated through Mid-America Arts Alliance, facilitated by local, professional artists, and sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council. Artists from all genres participated in the program.

In the Arkansas Heritage lobby, artists Tanya Hollifield, Lafayette Deramus, Kendra Danielle, Lucy Towbin, Lynda Williams, Annika Wade, Lafayette Deramus, Lo Patt, Susan Prowse and Shawn Standley, arranged artworks for display. Exhibits included jewelry, music merchandise and visual arts. Artist Ryane Cottrell set up a clothing rack to showcase her screenprints and upcycled, wearable art.

Artist INC, and WorkShare Night, celebrates and supports individual creatives and strengthens the creative economy. The arts and culture sectors contributed about $306 million to the state’s overall economy in 2022, according to a 2023 report from Arkansans for the Arts.

Local arts initiatives, like Artist INC, provide opportunities for individuals to connect and foster innovation and community. Although the Arkansas Arts Council has only been sponsoring Artist INC programs since about 2020, the program has been in Arkansas roughly 10 years and has helped hundreds of individual artists excel.

“I can honestly say Artist INC is one of the best things that ever happened to my career,” said artist Virmarie DePoyster, a former Artist INC participant, in email. “The program helped me to be more confident, broaden my thinking, and got me more comfortable talking about my work in front of people. It helped me to make goals and think long term.” 

DePoyster was recognized this year with a Governor’s Arts Award and an Individual Artist Fellowship award via the Arts Council. Her work has been exhibited extensively statewide. She said she attended the WorkShare event to support the newest Artist INC cohort.

“They inspired me to keep trying new ways to promote art in our community,” DePoyster said.

Presenting artists were Cedric Black, Rayne Cottrell, Kendra Danielle, Rhoda Deon, Lafayette DeRamus, Kie Goldsby, Tanya Hollifield, Lo Patt, Susan Prowse, Beth Simpson, Steve Spencer, Shawn Standley, Lucy Towbin, Gabrielle Vernor, Annika Wade, Peggy Wenger and Lynda Williams. Facilitators who led the course were artists Justin Tyler Bryant, Ben Grimes, CandySoul Humphrey, Paula Martin and Veronica Wirges.

Many creatives in the program integrated arts in new ways – from multisensory, interdisciplinary works that incorporate technology to a fiber artist who uses quilting to blend words and images. Black’s work focuses on using sound as therapy and creating new ways to visualize sound as art.

“I believe that everyone deserves to harness the power of sound for emotional wellbeing,” Black said. “Showcasing my work was a way to empower others to explore this transformative journey. Being able to address a large audience created “an artistic opportunity to challenge the traditional view of music and open people's minds to the possibility of sound as a tool for healing and personal growth,” he said.

“Ultimately, the presentation was a chance to ignite a conversation and inspire people to reimagine the role of sound in their lives,” he said.

Lead facilitator Ben Grimes, who is a playwright, actor and arts activator, said Artist INC gives creatives the opportunity to hone the business side of their practices and build financial sustainability. Few programs offer the kind of practical, hands-on, artist-led experience that this program does, Grimes said in email. Artist INC  addresses artist statements, bios, budgets, goal setting, branding, marketing and more. For the final night, artists prepare and make a presentation about their works as part of WorkShare Night.

“What is so special about the WorkShare portion of the program is that after spending eight weeks talking about budgets and very business-y stuff, we finally have this evening to view and celebrate these artists and the work they create,” Grimes said. “The WorkShares are always surprising, deeply meaningful and moving. They remind me how lucky I am to share space and rub elbows with these beautiful humans.”

The Arkansas Arts Council sponsors Artist INC programs statewide, which means all associated fees are waived for Arkansas artists chosen to participate. Artist INC Express workshops, held over one weekend, are expected to start this the fall.

For more information on Artist INC and other professional-development opportunities, visit See images from the 2024 event on social media or via Arkansas Tourism.


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