Monroe Among New Superstars of Southern Art
Mark Monroe, a recent graduate from the College of Fine Arts and Communication, was recognized in a recent issue of The Oxford American as one of the "100 under 100" New Superstars of Southern Art.
The magazine featured 100 most talented and up-and-coming artists in the South who paint, photograph or draw. The group was selected by art gallery directors, gallery owners, curators, critics and other artists. Monroe, 22, is one of the youngest artists in the group.
"I never thought that my efforts as an artist would be recognized this way," Monroe said. "To be a part of a group representing the first batch of southern art superstars is a huge honor."
Learn more about Monroe's artwork.
Barclay McConnell, the director of Baum Gallery, nominated Monroe for the honor.
“I felt his work was competitive with more established artists even though he was still an undergraduate student,” she said. “Mark has an ideal combination of talents including fearless artistic vision, significant skill and rigorous work ethic. He consistently impresses all who experience his art and it is easy to recognize his potential to be an enormous success in the art world.”
One of Monroe’s most recent work focuses on social media. His artwork investigates personal identity in a space where intimacy no longer exists. Monroe uses materials and processes that serve as metaphors for popular forms of Internet communication such as text messaging and social media, he explained.
“By creating interactive sculptures, I invite people to question their online relationships by highlighting the disconnection between the virtual and actual self,” he said. “By focusing on what is absent in those disembodied exchanges, my work encourages tangible relationships outside the virtual world.”
Monroe was awarded a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship grant to fund the exhibit.
“The exhibit addresses a social concern that I have with Facebook and our identities in which we’re portraying online. In a way it kind of limits us offline in that we have to live up to this virtual identity,” he said.
The idea for the piece originated when he was at his grandfather’s funeral precession with his family. His mother took a picture of their last moments with his grandfather. She posted the picture on Facebook and that brought up a red flag for him, Monroe explained. He said he was not particularly angry with his mother but just concerned with the generation’s usage of social media.
“We need to be a little more cautious on how we use [social media],” he said. “Identity is fragile in itself.”
Sandra Luckett, mentor to Monroe and an assistant professor of art, described Monroe as a “disciplined, mature and sophisticated artist.”
“He is especially well suited to examining this specific concept because his artwork often explores human relationships, both public and private," Luckett said.
Monroe, of North Little Rock, is currently in New York participating in an art internship with world renowned sculpture artist and his personal idol Diana Al-Hadid.
Monroe’s social media exhibit is one of many to come.
“This is just the beginning for me,” he said. - Spencer Griffin
Risi Wins Top Film Award
Kimberly Risi, a recent graduate of UCA's Digital Filmmaking program, was the winner of the Charles B. Pierce Best Arkansas Film Award at the 2012 Little Rock Film Festival.
Risi won the award for her 20-minute film, "The Man in the Moon." The film is about an inmate, Dave, who is sentenced to work on the moon and finds a door where an old man, the "man in the moon," lives.
"I'm very excited about winning the award," she said. "It's a big win for the UCA film department since the crew was made up of students. I was honored to just be nominated."
“The Man in the Moon” was Risi’s Honors thesis project. She got the idea for the movie while doodling. One of her doodles was of a moon with a window in the center.
“I knew the man in the moon fable but never really thought about it until then,” she said. “Twenty-seven script drafts later and I had my story.”
The moonscape exteriors were shot in a rock quarry in Jonesboro, she said. Two additional sets were built at Stanley Russ Hall on the UCA campus. The university provided the students with equipment they needed in order to produce the film, which was completed in April.
“Over the course of the last four years, my projects have become more complex and I've become more confident in my work,” Risi said.
The films in this year’s Little Rock Film Festival were exceptional, Risi added.
“I was proud to screen with every Arkansas film this year,” she said. “Every year the line-up gets better and better. Also, nine films at the festival were UCA made, three of which were done by professors. It just shows that UCA is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Arkansas film community.”