Nativity Scenes from the Americas on exhibit at UALR

Dr. Bill Wiggins at UALR's Sequoyah National Research Center on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

Dr. Bill Wiggins at UALR’s Sequoyah National Research Center on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

Christmas is four months from today – yet you can see a variety of Nativity scenes at UALR.

Dr. J.W. “Bill” Wiggins took a different route with his Nativity scene collection. Essentially, if he ran across something native-arts related that he liked during his travels, he bought it.

“As I started to collect Nativities, it quickly became a folk art collection,” Wiggins said.

Figures and paintings Wiggins accumulated during the past four decades found a home in his “Nativities from the Americas” exhibit, available for viewing 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 9 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Sequoyah National Research Center.

The exhibit features about 45 Nativity scenes, mainly crafted by Native American, Mexican and South American artists, although there also are some from other parts of the world.

Wiggins is fascinated with how different cultures view Christianity and the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Most of the artists represented in his collection incorporate their culture into the imagery.

That means, for example, visitors might see a buffalo or an eagle among the Nativity animals in some displays, and they’ll have a chance to view the figures presented in different mediums — from wood to clay, to even mud.

Wiggins said the Nativity collection is one of his most popular and most-requested exhibits. It was last on display in 2011, and Wiggins’ collection has grown since then.

One of the reasons for the exhibit’s popularity is that so many families decorate with Nativity sets of their own, Wiggins said, and the exhibit lets people see different interpretations of that venerated tradition.

Visitors to Wiggins’ exhibit shouldn’t expect to find Nativity scenes similar to those that annually line department store shelves. His collection features unique artistic perspectives such as a display that uses characters from other American holidays to symbolically represent the birth in Bethlehem.

Wiggins enjoys meeting the artists as he adds to his collection, and he tries not to miss an opportunity to discuss the displays with guests.

“I’m always interested in people’s reaction,” Wiggins said. “And what they see and what they don’t see is interesting.”

The Sequoyah National Research Center is home to one of the largest collections of Native American expression in the world. Its mission is to acquire and preserve the written and visual ideas of Native North Americans.

For more information, visit its website: http://ualr.edu/sequoyah/

Rebecca Wells headlines first day of 12th Annual Arkansas Literary Festival

2015 ALF 1The 12th annual Arkansas Literary Festival kicks off today.

  • From 5pm to 7pm, there will be a book sale preview party at River Market Books & Gifts in the Cox Creative Center.
  • At 5:30, the exhibit “Page Turners” featuring Bryan Collier will open at Hearne Fine Art.
  •  At 6pm, there will be a Summer Reading Club Preview on the 3rd floor of the Main Library.
  •  Rebecca Wells will discuss “Divine Secrets” at 7pm on stage at the Ron Robinson Theatre. She is the author of the “Ya Ya Sisterhood” books. She will also return to Little Rock in 2016 to perform her one-woman show at the Arkansas Rep.

Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.

Support for the Literary Festival is provided by sponsors including Central Arkansas Library System, Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL), Arkansas Humanities Council, Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, ProSmart Printing, Little Rock Family, KUAR FM 89.1, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sync, Arkansas Life, Clinton Foundation, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Windstream, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Times, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Hampton Inn Downtown/McKibbon Hotel Group, Capital Hotel, Historic Arkansas Museum , TransAmerica, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Arkansas Library Association, Pulaski Technical College, Union Pacific, Sequoyah National Research Center, Gibbs Elementary School, Rockefeller Elementary School, Hendrix College, Hendrix College Project Pericles Program, Arkansas Women’s Forum, Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, East Harding, University of Arkansas at Little Rock English Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing, Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Christ Episcopal Church, and Lamar Advertising. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System. The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Katherine Whitworth is the 2015 Festival Chair. Other committee chairs include Kevin Brockmeier, Talent Committee; Susan Santa Cruz, Festival Guides; Laura Stanley, Hospitality Gifts; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.

Lineup for 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival announced

alf maurice               Prestigious award-winners, big names, GRAMMY nominees, filmmakers, journalists, and artists are among the diverse roster of presenters who will be providing sessions at the twelfth annual Arkansas Literary Festival, April 23-26, 2015. The Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library campus and many other Little Rock venues are the sites for a stimulating mix of sessions, panels, special events, performances, workshops,presentations, opportunities to meet authors, book sales, and book signings. Most events are free and open to the public.

The Arkansas Literary Festival, the premier gathering of readers and writers in Arkansas, will include more than 80 presenters including featured authors John Waters, Rebecca Wells, Charles D. Morgan, Andrew Keen, Cheryl & Griff Day, Issa Rae, Ted Rall, Rick Bragg, Megan Abbott, Seph Lawless, Wesley K. Clark, and Bryan Collier.

This year’s Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Purple Heart, GLAAD Stephen F. Kolzak Award, Hugo Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Caldecott Honor, American Society of Newspaper Editor’s Distinguished Writing Award, Hammett Prize, Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, Bram Stoker Award, Whiting Writers Award, Plimpton Prize, Shorty Award for best web show, Beatrice Hawley award, New York Times Editor’s Selection, Poets Prize, Romantic Times Legend of Romance, Porter Prize, a James Beard Award nominee, the U.S. nominee for the Hans Christen Andersen Award, and more.

Special events for adults during the Festival include a cocktail reception with the authors, a session with John Waters, special art exhibits, and a workshop on developing a personal style. Panels and sessions include genres and topics such as scientific thinking, Jerry Lee Lewis, the web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, comic art, romance, war, and baking.

Children’s special events include a Tiny Ninja workshop, and a play based on Chicken Little and the Little Red Hen. Festival sessions for children will take place at both the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center, 4800 10th Street, and the Youth Services Department at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street. Special events for teens include a session with E. Lockhart, whose book, We Were Liars, was the best reviewed book for young adults in 2014..

Through the Writers In The Schools (WITS) initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by several authors for Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.

Support for the Literary Festival is provided by sponsors including Central Arkansas Library System, Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL), Arkansas Humanities Council, Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, ProSmart Printing, Little Rock Family, KUAR FM 89.1, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sync, Arkansas Life, William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Windstream, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Times, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Hampton Inn Downtown/McKibbon Hotel Group, Capital Hotel, Historic Arkansas Museum , TransAmerica, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Arkansas Library Association, Pulaski Technical College, Union Pacific, Sequoyah National Research Center, Gibbs Elementary School, Rockefeller Elementary School, Hendrix College, Hendrix College Project Pericles Program, Arkansas Women’s Forum, Philander Smith College, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, East Harding, University of Arkansas at Little Rock English Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing, Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Christ Episcopal Church, and Lamar Advertising. The Arkansas Literary Festival is supported in part by funds from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Author! Author!, a cocktail reception with the authors, will be Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m. and the Fred Darragh Distinguished Lecture with John Waters, will be Saturday, April 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets for both events are $25 in advance, and $40 at the door, and go on sale at ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org beginning Tuesday, April 1. Author! Author! tickets will also be available for purchase at the Main Library and River Market Books & Gifts, 120 River Market Avenue.

The Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System.  The Festival’s mission is to encourage the development of a more literate populace. A group of dedicated volunteers assists Festival Coordinator Brad Mooy with planning the Festival. Katherine Whitworth is the 2015 Festival Chair. Other committee chairs include Kevin Brockmeier, Talent Committee; Susan Santa Cruz, Festival Guides; Laura Stanley, Hospitality Gifts; and Amy Bradley-Hole, Moderators.

For more information about the 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival, visit ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org, or contact Brad Mooy at bmooy@cals.org or 918-3098. For information on volunteering at the Festival, contact Angela Delaney at adelaney@cals.orgor 918-3095.

Film CHOCTAW CODE TALKERS shown tonight at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

MacMus Code TalkTonight from 6:30 to 9:30 pm, in celebration of Native American Heritage Month and in commemoration of the beginning of World War I, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History will host a free film event, showing Choctaw Code Talkers, a PBS documentary that explores the military history legacy of Native American code talkers during World War I.

The free event is in partnership with the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  Light refreshments will be provided. Click here to watch a trailer for Choctaw Code Talkers

The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is a program of the City of Little Rock’s Parks & Recreation Department.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Deborah Baldwin

9 Deborah BaldwinAs a historian, arts patron, and administrator, Deborah Baldwin has had a hand in shaping Little Rock’s cultural scene for nearly thirty years.   As Chair of the UALR History Department from 1986 to 1992, she lead the department as it created the History Institute which sponsors the “Evenings with History” lecture series.  At the time it was started, it was one of the few lecture series in Little Rock (if not the only one).

A member of the UALR faculty since 1980, Baldwin is a specialist in modern Mexican history with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She has published a book on the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and a variety of articles, primarily on Mexican social history topic.

As a History Department faculty member, she has lead the Public History seminar. This program has documented the history of several Little Rock cultural institutions over the years including the Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Museum of Discovery.  The Public History program has trained many of the museum professionals working in Little Rock today.  The Central High Museum, a private forerunner of the National Park Service Central High National Historic Site Visitor Center, was lead in a large part by persons associated with the UALR Public History Program.

Starting in the mid-1990s, Baldwin led the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  In that capacity, she oversaw the visual and performing arts programming at UALR.  Under her leadership, the Departments of Art, Music, and Theatre & Dance were all revitalized.  As a part of this, she ensured that cutting-edge technology was being integrated to arts curriculum.  She also led efforts to upgrade the performance facilities.  During her tenure as Dean, the College also played leading roles in the commemoration of the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the integration of Central High School, the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, and the “Life Interrupted” exhibit which highlighted the Japanese-American internment experience in Arkansas.  She also oversaw the creation of Finale!, an event each spring which celebrates the arts in Little Rock and honors arts patrons.

With the creation of the Arkansas Studies Institute (a collaboration between UALR and Central Arkansas Library System), Baldwin took on additional duties as UALR’s supervisor on the project.

In 2014, UALR underwent a campus-wide administrative and academic reorganization.  In conjunction with that, Baldwin became Associate Provost for UALR Collections and Archives.  In that capacity she oversees the campus library system, Center for Arkansas History and Culture and the Sequoyah National Research Center.  She continues to teach in the Department of History.

She is a past member of the board of the Arkansas Humanities Council and the MacArthur Military History Museum Commission.

 

Trail of Tears Commemoration Day

Today is Trail of Tears Commemoration Day.  There were several different routes on the Trail of Tears.  Little Rock was one of the only places (if not the only one), in which each of the tribes passed through on the way out west.

Much research on the Trail of Tears has been conducted by the UALR Sequoyah National Research Center (SNRC).

The SNRC recently opened an exhibit entitled “Toy Tipis and Totem Poles: Native American Stereotypes in the Lives of Children.”

"Ten Little Indians" spinning top for SNRC exhibit

Ten little Indians spinning top; Photography by George Chambers

The exhibit runs through Dec. 19. Held in the Dr. J.W. Wiggins Native American Art Gallery, the purpose of the event is to create awareness of the variety of native cultures and the achievements of contemporary American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The exhibit comes from the Hirschfelder-Molin Native American Stereotypes Collection, a collection of more than 1,500 museum objects and archival documents, possibly the largest such collection in the world.

The items were donated to SNRC in 2012 by Arlene Hirschfelder and Paulette Molin, professional educators and authors with decades-long experience in Native American education and Native American studies. SNRC archivist Erin Fehr will curate the exhibit with Hirschfelder, Molin, and SNRC staff.

The exhibit will highlight the areas of the collection dealing with children and Native American stereotypes omnipresent in the lives of American children.

By examining childhood objects – dolls, toys, books, games, clothing, sports memorabilia – the exhibit will create awareness of the inculcation of the images and the difficulty of changing mainstream thinking about Native American stereotypes.

In addition to presenting the stereotypes themselves, positive images and responses from Native people will be presented as an alternative.

UALR’s Sequoyah National Research Center is dedicated to the collection and preservation of all forms of Native American expression. Located in the University Plaza, SNRC has served as an archive for Native Americans for more than 30 years. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information contact Erin Fehr at ehfehr@ualr.edu or 501.569.8336.