Interns Sought for Summer WAMA Sessions

Interested in sharing your talents with our WAMA students? Become an intern!

Fill out the form below if you are interested in learning more about WAMA’s many intern opportunities in both the Instrumental and Vocal Program. After submitting the form, we will contact you with the complete 2015 WAMA Intern Application via email.

Wildwood Offers Fried Chicken and Made in the U.S.A. at Mulligan Brothers Concert

On April 2, The Mulligan Brothers will take the stage at the first of the LIVE! at Wildwood concerts to be held in April. The band’s unique blend of country, folk, and Americana are buoyed by partnerships with two local businesses that will lend a unique flare to the evening.

World famous Gus’s Fried Chicken will be providing an option dinner for patrons. The dinner is $8 and may be purchased at the same time as reserved seats for the concerts. For patrons with VIP tickets, the dinner is included. The dinner consists of two pieces of fried chicken, beans, and slaw.

Continuing the American theme, local retail shop Domestic Domestic will set up a pop-up shop in the theatre’s lobby. Specializing in goods made in the United States, Domestic Domestic is located in the Hights neighborhood and carries a wide selection of goods.

Tickets for the April 2 concert are available here.

The LIVE! at Wildwood series continues on April 23 with Marc Cohn.

LANTERNS! Festival This Weekend

LANTERNS! will happen as scheduled this weekend. In light of recent weather, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.45.41 AM


You may purchase tickets here.


Tonight’s Concert Rescheduled for October, 2015

Tonight’s performance by the Vienna Boys’ Choir has been cancelled and rescheduled for October. All tickets will remain valid for the October date. More information will be released as soon as possible.

Program Guide for WAMA 2015 Released

The Program Guide for the 2015 summer session of Wildwood’s Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) has been released.

WAMA is designed for students ages 6-18, who are interested in studying music. The Academy’s mission is to bring access to the highest standards in music and arts education to students of all ages and backgrounds in Central Arkansas. In 2015, WAMA’s vision grows to include a vocal program in addition to the instrumental programs which are comprised of all instrument groups: strings, winds, brass, percussion, and piano. Through orchestral, large and small ensemble, and solo experiences, participants will be provided with educational and performance opportunities supported by a musically nurturing environment and professional faculty. Our distinguished faculty are chosen for their excellence as role models and arts educators. Additionally, student groups will have access to workshops, master classes, and multiple artistic genres. Through rehearsal and performance experiences, WAMA students will be inspired and challenged to grow through the arts.

The 2015 WAMA Program Guide may be downloaded here: WAMA Program Guide.

Interested students may apply for WAMA by clicking here.


Art in the Park: An Interview with Artist Joli Livaudais

Jolie Livaudias, a recent transplant to Little Rock, explains how easily her process is informed by the world around her. 


How did you find yourself in Little Rock?

I came for the faculty position here at UALR. I lived in Monroe, Louisiana before we moved here in July. I had a gallery in New Orleans, but I lived in northeast Louisiana.


Had you visited Little Rock before you looked into moving here?

I’d passed through. I hadn’t really visited for a long period of time until my interview at UALR. I was really impressed with the area as far as the fact that it’s going through some exciting changes. It seemed to me like there was a lot going on. From talking to folks, it sounds like this has all been going on in the last decade so it feels like we are on the brink of doing something really exciting.


Do you think the city as a whole is on the brink or more so the arts community?

Of course, I’m all about the arts community. I think there are a lot of options in this city, culturally whatever you are into, like the Clinton museum, for example.


Does the art scene in Little Rock feel similar to that of Louisiana?

The culture is similar from northern Louisiana to Arkansas. The art scene here is better. We had some things going on Monroe, but it was a smaller town.


What has been the most exciting thing you have found here in Little Rock?

Because it is my first semester at UALR, I haven’t done as much exploring as I would like or as I will do. I haven’t gone out as much as I should, like to Crystal Bridges. Everyone says I have to go. So far it’s been discovering the faculty here; there is a lot of talent here and some interesting people. I am interested in finding some like-minded people and creating opportunities for local artists to show.


What have you found to be the most effective way to connect with your audience and other artists?

If you go to events that sure helps. You meet folks and you find the network that is definitely out there. It strikes the conversation. I have my students attend at least two art events each semester because I think it’s so key.


How long have you been teaching?

Not all that long. I was a professional commercial photographer, and then I went back to school to get my MFA in 2011. I graduated in 2013. I taught while I was in school and then adjunct for a year before coming here. I am still new to it, but I’m not new to photography.


How do you think teaching has affected your practice?

Well, I haven’t been able to make as much, which I hate to say, but it’s true. But, I still think that this was a really good decision because I feel that the teaching helps me. It’s all about the quest. I am trying to teach my students to see and to make, and so art is always top of mind. Although I don’t have as much time to make myself, I think all of that reflection helps to motivate me when I do have the time.

The delight of teaching is that you are surrounded by artists all of the time.


You teach photography. Is that a practice you have always done?

I actually got my undergraduate and graduate degree in psychology. Then I was photo assisting in the commercial market in the Dallas area for a couple of years. I learned through an apprenticeship. When I wanted to go back for my MFA, they evaluated me based on my photography portfolio.

I had always done art, but I had never taken it particularly seriously. It was just something I always did. It wasn’t until I got into my graduate psychology program and there was no time for art that I felt completely lost and miserable. I felt like I lost a limb. It wasn’t until that point that I realized how important art was to me.

So then I did a reevaluation. I finished that degree, but as soon I was done, I pursued photography more seriously.


Do you still see your psychology background coming through your work?

Oh yeah, have you looked at my work? I don’t think psychology and art are really fundamentally all that different. There is an introspection that happens in both that I think is really useful.


What kind of photography do you do?

I shoot digitally, but I also shoot with medium format and large format film. It depends on what I’m in the mood for or what the job is. In the end, my pieces are not very often flat photos. They are usually some kind of installation work, so it depends on what’s going to work best.


When did the 3D work start?

In my second year of graduate school. In my first year, I was doing alternative process work in photography. In my second year, I implemented the resin and started playing with layers and building things up. It kind of went from there.


I can see the creatures crawling up the wall behind you. Are those photographs as well?

Yes. They are folded photographs, all of them. That piece is about the cycle of life, loss and memory. It’s about transformation. I decided to keep a few beetles around from the installation.


Where did the beetle form come from?

I was thinking a lot about archetypes, the psychology thing coming back. I started getting interested in the difference between how we view beetles and birds. In thinking about archetypes, they are both symbols for transformation, often times a spiritual transformation. But one of them we see as being a beautiful, heavenly form and the other is something we are really scared of. I am intrigued by that difference. Birds and beetles both appear in my work pretty regularly.

In the end I didn’t want something that was that specific; I wanted a generic beetle form. I ended up doing a lot of research. Once I found an origami pattern I liked, I modified it a bit. I wanted to suggest a beetle without you seeing “a horn beetle” or specific species.


How did the resin come about, like the resin in the pieces you have on display at Wildwood?

I wanted to layer images. I started researching how to do that. The first idea was that I wanted to print a photograph on gold. I found a couple of photographers who played with various things and looked at the kind of materials they were using. I did a little experimentation on my own and came up with this process. The trick is that if you print your photograph on a very thin kozo paper and then impregnate it with resin, the paper goes almost completely transparent and the only thing you can see is the ink. I started with thin layers and then wondered, what would happen if I went really deep with the resin? What if I did more than one layer?


And the translucence came next?

Light is key to almost all of my work. That just sort of worked its way in there as well.


Do you find you do a lot of specific reading or material research?

Whenever I am looking, it’s usually psychology. Joseph Campbell, psychology, things like that. Most of my inspirations come from a dream journal.


What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Days like today I can do dark room work. I try to keep Fridays as a resin day. I have a little studio space in the university plaza. Usually my pieces take a long time. I have more than one thing going on at one time because they all take so long.


Have you taken any photographs outside here in Arkansas yet?

Not yet. One series I made came from tromping around in the forest. Since then, I’ve done more studio oriented stuff, although it’s funny that you should mention it. I’ve been thinking the last few weeks that it might be time to pack up my camera and go outside again. It’s so beautiful outside here.


What are you currently working on in the studio?

I have in the works a series of installation pieces where I am casting different women’s bodies and suspending them in a gallery space. The casted figure would be solid resin, no photos in this one, just translucence. In my figure at Wildwood I have hooks to suspend the figure with fishing line. You know how fishing line is supposed to be invisible, but isn’t? I am thinking of putting hooks all around the top and bottom of the figure so that there is this pillar that goes up all the way to ceiling. The fishing line would come down through the body and come out across the floor. The idea is that it is suppose to suggest a tree, but what I think is interesting is if the bodies are real bodies, not mannequin bodies. All different kinds of women. I would want to have 10 or 12 of these so you walk through the figures in the space. That’s what is in progress. I think it would be cool if there were enough of them. I don’t know where I would show that around here, though.


I see there is a birdcage over here. Do you have a bird?

I do, I bring him up on Sundays when I am not teaching. I have a parrot, an African grey parrot.


Any upcoming shows?

I am supposed to have a show in Mississippi over the summer, but nothing scheduled locally.


What do you think being a successful artist?

I think that’s an interesting question. I guess, for me, the ideal success as an artist would be that you could make a living at it. In the end that’s not really what I am striving for. I want to be able to show and share my work, to do pieces that I am proud of, and to be able to get those pieces out so other people can see them.



Joli’s work is on view at Art in the Park through Sunday, February 15.

To see more of Joli’s work visit

Art in the Park: An Interview with Artist Amanda Hubbard

I asked myself what I want do with my life? What do I want to spend my life doing? Where do I feel comfortable? I realized I wanted to be where I am learning and growing but also feel like myself at the same time. Art it was, for sure.

Arkansas runs deep for Amanda Hubbard. A native of Redfield, a railroad town on the edge of the delta, Hubbard grew up designing, making, and creating. It started with an “aluminum foil purse for my Grandma, my Nanny,” she said. In school she loved her art classes, and when she studied art in the Arkansas Governor’s School summer program she finally found her utopia. “They had art, music, psychology, and film – all these different things. And no TV’s – it was a long time ago, so no cell phones either. We had to entertain ourselves, which allowed us to be more creative.”

After earning a Bachelor and Master Degree in Sociology, she knew there was something lacking: “Not being able to use my creativity as much as I believe I need in my life. I figure you’re given these gifts, these abilities, and then you don’t use them. It’s like something you enjoy doing, but you never get to do it.” Finally, after a birthday she was honest with herself. “I asked myself what I want do with my life? What do I want to spend my life doing? Where do I feel comfortable? I realized I wanted to be where I am learning and growing but also feel like myself at the same time. Art it was, for sure.”


How do you think your sociology background has affected your painting? Do you see a connection or do you see this as a new adventure?

I am glad you asked that. Sometimes I see different things in other people’s work; I don’t notice themes so much about mine. If people are talking about their art or I see something, it makes the connection with sociology, like feminism or things like that. It’s always kind of there, but certain things spark it at different times. There is nothing I am consciously connecting between my painting and sociology.



Is there any inspiration behind your process or is it about the physical act of painting?

I think I draw inspiration from being in the moment and being very present and very conscientious of what you do. I am not sure how I am going to do my thesis show yet. I am trying to figure out if I need to feel a specific emotion to paint that emotion at that moment. It’s hard to be in the present all of the time, so of course you are going on memories here and there. I go from being in the present, to being in the past, to being in the present, to being in the future all of the time. To me, that’s very challenging. I don’t look at anything when I paint. If I were more of a realist I would have something to look at and I would go off of that. I don’t do that as an effort to be in the present.


I feel like being in the present is a constant struggle as a painter. How do you paint something new without thinking about all of that history, the baggage of paintings before you?

You’d have to have amnesia. I focus on trying to be in the present, that mindfulness of trying to be. It makes you more aware when you are not. That’s part of it. I really try to be in the present but also pepper it with the past and the future.


How does your studio process work? Can you describe your average day in the studio?

I usually work on the weekends, I love being in the studio at school when no one is there. It takes a while to get my things out. I have different things in different places. I usually try to do more than one painting at a time. Last night I did three. So I have gallons of paint that are separated into smaller jars. I mix different colors of acrylic enamel house paint from primary colors. I use large and rectangular Tupperware containers to store the colors I have already mixed. I have them because I thought that would be the best for my large brushes. When I first started I was experimenting with brooms and things. I need something large. I got back in touch with how to mix my own colors.

Then I pull brushes and I just start going. I just start. I really, over time, have learned not to fret or manipulate. I can’t keep messing with it, or else my paintings turn out horrible. Now I just dive in, I just go until I feel like it’s at the line where I feel like it is complete. There is that fine line between painting too much and not enough. I try to find that line.


Do you work at multiple paintings at the same time?

I do one at a time. I was thinking I might want to try to do two at the same time, like Joan Mitchell does her paintings. I read that because her paintings were so large she divided them in half to make them more manageable. I think that is something I will try in the future.


How long do you spend on one painting?

I spent over an hour to do three last night. But I am working a lot of that time and I am looking. So its not like I am listening to music or that kind of thing. I am doing actual painting during that entire time.


When you finish do you ever come back to the painting and do another layer of paint?

Usually, when I finish, that’s it. I started off doing traditional landscapes before the more abstract. I started with 8 inch by 10 inch canvases, and those were more layered in the beginning. With the bigger ones, I just want that moment in time to be captured. To me it’s more difficult to go back to fix something; it just doesn’t work that well. It’s missing the present moment. I thought about trying it, but I don’t know how it’s going to roll out.


Do you have a project plan when you work? Like how many paintings to display in a space?

It’s as it comes. I try not to expect too much. I know by doing you just got to do. It may not be the best, it may not be a masterpiece, but you are doing. It’s an art practice, so you are practicing. Like some people practice a piano, you have to practice painting. That way of thinking just came about. I used to think each piece had to be a gem. But over time I got over that and realized each piece may not be a masterpiece. If it’s not, I’m like, “Hey I can just paint over it, that’s okay to.” I not try to be too attached.


Any artists you’ve been specifically looking to for inspiration?

I was looking initially at Richard Diebenkorn and his topography pieces. I like how he took landscapes but made them into abstractions. I liked his colors. Then I became interested in de Kooning and his spontaneous, painterly marks. He seemed to express a lot of emotion in his painting. I have a similar process to Joan Mitchell, style not so much. I had never heard of her until recently and felt cheated that I had never heard of her before. It’s terrible. I took a woman in art and music class and she was in that book, but I dont know if we ever touched on her. There are not a lot of women artists that are really studied and given the kudos that they deserve.


Especially in abstract expressionism.

Jackson Pollock and the men got all of the accolades. I would really love to see Joan Mitchell’s work in person someday. To me, it looks huge and all encompassing.


How do you choose your colors?

I pull a little from de Kooning and Diebenkorn. Diebenkorn the earthy tones, and de Kooning the bright colors. Last night I had a tank top and pair of underwear right next to each other, and I thought to myself, “I really like those colors; I’ll have to mix those up.” I think its just colors I really like together or that catch my attention.


How often do you refresh your palette? How many Tupperware are we talking at one time?

About ten at one time. If I get an idea for a color I just mix it up. I have a contractors’ paint sample fan that a neighbor gave to me. I think I might start taking my colors to Home Depot to get them mixed in large quantities. I didn’t know what colors I wanted a gallon of until recently. It’s a commitment. I think I am going to have them mix specific colors that I have figured out that I like. As time goes on I will probably keep adding to that palette.


How would you describe the art community in Little Rock?

I think it’s growing. I know I had been out of the community for a few years, and I think the art scene is definitely more accessible if you are a student. It seems like you find out more about things that are going on, like artist talks. I can compare being in class to not since I have moved back in 2006, and I know a lot more than I did by being at UALR.


What have you found to be the best way to talk to other artists or your audience?

I talk with most artists through classes, my peers and professors. I have friends who are artists and that helps to have friends in the greater community. My friend Robert Bean organizes art events here. My brother is a photographer, so he hears about stuff. Facebook is really helpful to get invited to different events and things.


Have you used social media to get your work out to a wider audience?

When I’ve had artist receptions I’ve invited people via Facebook. I post paintings as I’m working on social media. When I’m watching the paint dry, literally, I’ll post pictures. Its fun to show people what your doing.


I love the drips.

Sometimes I have water. I use a spray bottle. I erase sometimes with any kind of color. I like painting over other paintings, so the painting before shows through the current one. For Puerto Viejo I used a broom for the blue going into the red, I was experimenting with that. I tried a sponge, a tampon. I tried whatever I could get to get different strokes. Right now I have up to five-inch paintbrushes. I love that I have everything from really small to 5 inches.


What’s the biggest size canvas you have used?

36 by 48 probably. I have some bigger canvases at my house I am hoping to give a whirl. I am hoping to work bigger because it feels like it encompasses you more, but I also think you can get the point across at a smaller size.


What is exciting you the most right now?

I love the 5-inch brush. I think it’s a deck painting brush to do stains. I got a couple of those that I like to use. I think now the choice comes from figuring out which brush size to use, of course color too, but I have such a range in brush size now. In the beginning I focused on minimal strokes with bigger brushes, but that works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t. I think I go back and forth. Like last night I tried to see how few strokes I could use to make what I wanted to make. That’s a challenge in and of itself. It’s all a part of not expecting a masterpiece. You just have to try it. I don’t know how successful you could be if everything you worked on turned out great.


What’s next for you?

I am applying to graduate school for my MFA. I hope to learn a lot from being around a group of artists. I think it really helps to be around people who can give you honest feedback and constructive criticism. The energy that comes from that is helpful. I’m really looking forward to learning and the experience of it in and of itself.


Do you have any goals for your work? Do you see it in a gallery space or in someone’s home?

I would really like to teach, to be an art professor at a university, because I think it’s really important that people express themselves. There are few places you can really do that besides the arts. Those are the places where you can express yourself freely, and there are no boundaries or limitations. As a teacher, I can do my work but also inspire students as they inspire me. It sounds like a nice way of living.


How would you describe being a successful artist?

That’s a really good question. I’m not really sure. I think it depends on what your definition is. I think that for me if I do work and people see it, whatever shape or form that is, I think it’s successful. If someone buys it, that might be successful, too.

A painting is successful when I like the painting when I am done. Actually liking something that you have done and being able to own it – that’s part of being successful, too. You might do something and someone likes it, but what’s the point if you don’t like it.

Music Education Benefit Concert This Friday

Wildwood Park for the Arts Announces Benefit Performance by the Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra (MEBCO) on Feb 13

The Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra (MEBCO) will perform a benefit concert at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock at 7pm on Friday, February 13. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to support the Wildwood Academy for Music and the Arts (WAMA) and the Arkansas Youth Symphony Orchestra (ASYO).

Eric Meincke has formed the Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra (MEBCO) and will conduct eight Wildwood Academy of the Music and the Arts 2014 students and Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra members, all of which are volunteering their time for this performance. Eric is a former WAMA student and current ASYO trumpet player as well as co-drum major for the Central High School Band. He has been studying conducting since he was in the 7th grade.

A reception will follow the concert, which includes music by Bach, Cacavas, Lauridsen, Lecuona and Mozart.

Artist Patty Carreras Spends a Week at Robinson Elementary

Last week, Wildwood’s Arts in Education Artist Patty Carreras worked with 3rd through 5th graders at Robinson Elementary. Patty Carreras is a theatre professional who incorporates theatre, movement and dance into classroom topics. Through this residency, students learned about science and nutrition through interactive performances and acting. Each class performed a play for parents, teachers, and peers on Friday. These plays included the “Dr. Oz Show,” which taught students about the cardiovascular system and exercise, and “The Yummy Awards,” which taught students about the benefits of healthy eating.

You can learn more about Patty Carreras and Wildwood’s Arts in Education program here.

Art in the Park: An Interview with Artist Morgan Hill

“I always cared a huge deal about space, the space around me, what makes me feel good in that space” – Morgan Hill

“It’s next to Big Lots,” was all she had told me. When I had agreed to meet artist Morgan Hill at her studio on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s campus, I wasn’t expecting the small, shackled building that had been tacked on to an aging strip mall. As is typical for artists and their workspaces, the outside is rarely indicative of the art, artist or process that resides within. Inside, the workshop was cavernous, an endless stock of materials and tools, all permeated with the restless energy of creation. The building holds a woodshop, facilities for metal-smiting, and a textiles room, each one ready for the next class to revive it. As I sat down with Morgan, it became clear that the space was more than just a facility of convenience, but had become an integral part of her growth as an artist.

A native of the small, delta swept town of Wynne, AR, Hill made the move to nearby Memphis to study at the Memphis College of Art and later transferred to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway before finally finding herself and her art in Little Rock. “I knew I wanted to do art, but I didn’t know what I do with it,” she says.

“When I started, drawing was the thing that excited me the most . . . the thing I was using my hands with the most.” She realized early on that she wanted to focus on design. After an attempt at interior design, she found the Applied Design program that allowed her to mix her interest for design with her passion of hands-on processes. “I always cared a huge deal about space, the space around me, what makes me feel good in that space, so furniture made a lot of sense.” She was immediately hooked. “It was exactly what I wanted to do. Finally, after eight years.”


How would you describe the art scene in Arkansas? In Little Rock?

 New, upcoming. I’ve gone to Austin for the East Austin Studio Tours the past three years – I have seen how much development there’s been there, and I see that happening here now. Exciting things are going on in SOMA and Argenta: co-ops starting to form, people are starting to get spaces together and have group shows. I hate to leave right now – but I want it to happen and then come back to it. (She is moving to North Carolina to become a fellow at the Penland School of Crafts) I would have loved to be really involved in the first co-op shop for metal/wood work. I was trying to get that going, but at this stage in life people have things they have to do. I realized this was the time that I should go do a residency. I don’t have a child or job that is holding me back.

The time is coming for this city. Little Rock hit the moment where there was enough people coming to the city that there had to be someone looking for a shop or art scene. Most likely these people couldn’t find what they were looking for here and just decided to make it for themselves. Our location in the country has a lot to do with being a tad behind.


Have you experienced that the Little Rock arts community has grown since you’ve been here?

Oh, yeah. I’ve been fortunate enough to be really involved in it. Once I moved here, I immediately became really close to Mia Hall, my Furniture Design professor, and she tried to tell me about everything I needed to be a part of and everyone I needed to meet. So I was quickly friends with a lot of people who were very involved in the art community. That grew, and as I was about to graduate, I became friends with people who could help me post graduation. I met Anita Davis who owns the Esse Purse Museum and has done a lot for the SOMA area to bring up the arts there and develop it. She hired me to be a sales person, and then I became involved in whatever creative project was going on at the museum at the time, and I am now the Creative Director there. I have been with the museum since it opened in 2013.

It’s so much more than people think it is. Everyone just thinks it’s a purse, but it’s not, it’s women’s history. The gift shop is its own exhibit in itself with all handmade things. It’s really awesome.

I don’t know how things just happen, but the last year has been amazing for my career. I have met the right people and been in the right place. You hate to say it, but that’s how it happens and it really, really did.


Tell me more about your business Morgan Hill Creative

About 6 months before I graduated, I realized I needed to get professional with my work. I learned about websites, how to photograph my work, and everything in between. I started business cards, website, all that stuff.

I started making jewelry because I knew I needed something small that I could make fast and sell because takes a while and is expensive. The furniture is very much for a certain type of person. This last year has been focused on developing my jewelry more than anything.


Is the jewelry wood too?

Yes, wood and metal. I carve shapes from a piece of wood. Each piece will speak to me in a different way. I layer with colors and then rub them back to reveal some of the wood.

I have a shop on my website and sell jewelry at the Esse Purse Museum and various shops around the country. That’s been growing. It’s been awesome to see that I can sell jewelry and live off of it; I can actually have a career in this. I wanted to get the jewelry moving in a new direction, but it’s gained such attention that people are interested in the current aesthetic. People are seeing it for the first time in different places so I have had to keep the same aesthetic but also tweak it so that I can stay interested in it.

The furniture is where my heart is. It’s what I want to do whether I make money in it or not.


I saw recently you have done some commissioned work, like at Moxy Mercantile. How do you think about the commissioned work and how does it function differently than your jewelry or furniture? Do you create proposals or have businesses come to you?

 So far people have come to me. The first piece I did an installation with yarn. There was an alternative space in Argenta where a women’s group got together and put on a show. I had wanted to draw with string; it’s in the craft field, still, so I thought if it was successful that I would stay interested in it. I began with a portrait of myself with string. From that point, it turned into a thing where people wanted their signs made out of the same technique or random objects. Those commissions are something that I would probably be the least interested in doing now. The first piece I did was the most meaningful – I still have the desire to draw and do line work, but I would rather that have stayed with me. But because it became such a thing and people were interested, I realized it would be a good advertisement and money. I thought I’d rather do it then not. I would like to move from that and somehow incorporate it into the furniture and the three-dimensional stuff that I am doing. I still like it, it isn’t something I want to let go of, but it definitely turned into something that was a little too commercial.


What are you currently working on?

 The larger work that I’ve done has been more from workshops that I have taken. Because having a job everyday, I get here (her studio) after work and it doesn’t allow me a lot of time. I have to keep my space clean, so it limits me on the bigger things that I get to work on because I don’t have long periods of time. So the jewelry has been my focus, to get that going and make it something that can sustain me. I have had in the back of my mind that I can’t let go of the furniture part even though I can’t focus on it right now. I have done everything I can to get into a program that allows me to do that. After two years of trying, I got into Penland School of Crafts. In February I will move and be there for two years.

chair hill_ducklingpushtoy_4_b hill_fruitbats_2_b

Have you been thinking about the furniture in terms of research, materials or plans since you haven’t been able to work on it?

 Yes – I have a stack of ideas and materials that are ready to go.

The taxidermy work that I did for my BFA show is definitely something that is the most important right now. I still want to work with taxidermy. I have been learning the past two years how to taxidermy on my own. The taxidermy work is where I feel most like who I really am, my heart and sole. It’s where my concept comes through and is my more meaningful work. I’ll try once, I am at Penland, to do as much furniture and involve the animal aspect of it.


How did the taxidermy come about?

 I grew up on a farm. My dad was a hunter; I was the only child and a girl at that. I was going to go hunting with him, whether I liked it or not. I was immediately disgusted by hunting. I would fall in love with the dead thing that we brought home, and it would become this thing that I thought was precious and I wanted to memorialize it in some way in my mind. My dad wouldn’t let me keep the animals, but I lived with these things on the wall as a child. As I got older I realized that my parents and I had more differences that similarities. Taxidermy became the thing that represented all those differences as I grew – how things changed from what I was taught as a girl to how I think now. It’s been the thing that has stuck with me. I am very attracted to the animals, and I have always been obsessed with death – the lighter aspect of it, at least. Not the heavy, ‘where do we go’ part of the death, but the lighter, humorous, macabre side of death. It just fit with me – it was the thing that had all of those aspects that I was drawn to. All these things are the total opposite of my parents, it’s not something that was ever instilled in me.

Taxidermy is everywhere now, as far as art. I am glad because I get to move anywhere and find a place for myself; it’s not just in the South.

A lot of the taxidermy I have to buy online or on EBay. I just bought a piece of taxidermy that’s a toy that a kid would play with. I really hate seeing older pieces of taxidermy that someone throws away; that’s really sad to me. It’s like throwing away a human being once they are so old that there’s no use for them. The animal has still had a life and is beautiful. I want to find a way to honor these animals. They’re trophies for somebody; let me give them a time to be looked at like they deserve to be. I feel like one day there will be a big movement against the discrimination of animals, like civil rights or women’s rights. I would love for people to consider these animals more than just something to run over. I realized just having a piece of taxidermy in my work said all of these things and I didn’t have to try to verbally explain it.

hill_turtlering_1_b hill_turtlering_3_bhill_turtlering_4_b


How do you choose your materials, in terms of wood, etc?

 I am attracted to high contrast things. It definitely depends on the animal I’m using. I start with the animal as the source and respond to its color. I’m attracted to light wood usually, the whiter the better. I like more mid-century lines, clean, simple lines, so whatever piece of taxidermy I use stands out. The animal becomes be the most detailed, involved thing for the eye to look at.

Do you see your furniture as functional?

It’s hard for me because I do want it to be gallery work, but I also want it to function now that I am far enough in this field and I know I’ll have to support myself. If I’m going to say I’m a furniture maker, I want it to have function. I want it to have the sculptural, organic gallery presence but also for it to function and work in someone’s home. I’ve encountered those problems already. I made a cabinet that was for bats to live in; it was strictly something for you to look at as art. I need to figure out how to let the audience interact with the work a little more. For the chair and ottoman I made, the ottoman stood on the piece of taxidermy so no one can rest on it.

I want to make sure those things can work together.

I think it’s the right time to be a craftsperson – it’s the beginning of this huge boom. Not that there hasn’t been craft around, but it feels like craft is now something I see everywhere all of a sudden.


What is the best way for you to connect with your audience?

 I forced myself. I am not a computer person; I knew Facebook and basic social media, but I had to make a decision to be on top of that. I don’t read books either. I am so visual that it is really hard for me to read. I forced myself to read things that were going to teach me how to do the social media part of business and to talk to people outside of the Little Rock community. That part was easier. I knew how to talk to people and go to things. I could handle Little Rock. But as far as Instagram and Facebook and reaching out to other website that could sell my work, I needed help. I read a whole book about Instagram and how to do it, and it totally worked. I worked really hard on it for a while and now it’s an easy thing. I’ve gotten jobs from Instagram. It really is a thing to know – there is a lot of power in it. It’s just how the world is now.

I keep applying to shows in different places. I have gotten in little shows and some bigger ones that I never thought I would get into because of social media. On Instagram, you tag the right person and that’s it, that’s all that has to happen. There’s a store in Michigan that has my stuff, a really cool boutique, just because I tagged a picture.


Do you look to any artists for inspiration? What type of conversation would you hope your work to be a part of?

 I hope to be involved with different groups, but I don’t think I’m there yet. There are a lot of artists working in taxidermy and I would love to jump into that and somehow be a part of that conversation. When someone wants to write about work with taxidermy in it, I would love for my work to come up. There aren’t a lot of furniture makers who use taxidermy in their work, so that’s a good thing. I would really feel successful if those people that I’ve looked at the most through out this taxidermy work recognized me.

Other than that, it’s really local. I definitely feel a part of the group that I graduated with; we are still very close and are really trying to make it. We’re really worried about each other and about helping each other. The group is about to spread out a little bit from Little Rock. It’s been different from what I’ve seen in other schools or other relationships that I have. We all want to find success in our degree and are sticking with it. Right now my classmates are trying really hard to be the people who change things here in Little Rock. I haven’t felt that way any other place I’ve lived.

I tried several different things and realized this [art] is the only thing I know and the only thing that is going to make me happy. It’s the only thing I am going to allow myself to do, if that’s the case. Money doesn’t mean a lot to me; as long as I can take care of myself that’s all I really need. My parents absolutely hate hearing that, but they’re coming around to the idea of me being an artist for the rest of my life. I’m very lucky to have parents who are still growing.


Any parting words?

Recently I’ve been really thinking about where I want my work to go. Talking about my work used to be really complicated. I would really like to simplify what my work is, not just visually, but to make it a more universal thing that people can really walk up to and understand. A simple understanding, not something that makes them feel all of the emotions. Something peaceful and funny. I would really like my work to be easy and express what I feel about it. It’s very simple. It’s this silly idea of the death part of life.

 You Can Find More of Morgan Hill’s work at:

Wildwood Park for the Art’s Art in the Park exhibit until February 15 and at UALR’s  The Penland Experience  

You can follow her on Instagram here and on Facebook here.