Marlie Allgood ’18
From her beginnings taking art classes at a local church in Cabot, Arkansas, to a studio educator at the famed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art located in Bentonville, Arkansas, Marlie Allgood ’18 did not foresee her future as an educator. After completing her degree at the University of Central Arkansas, followed by some traveling, she got the opportunity to return to her home state and work in both painting and teaching, thereby experiencing the best of art and education.
Allgood recognized her interest in art, specifically painting in oils, during her junior high school years when she participated in art classes and athletics. As she entered high school, her focus had shifted to art alone.
“I was finally like, ‘I don’t really like sports. What am I doing?’ And so I really took all kinds of art classes then. That’s when I started painting and really thought seriously as far as, ‘I want to be an artist, and I want to go to art school,’” Allgood said.
She started UCA as an art education major and later changed her major to studio art.
“I had great professors that really encouraged me to take it seriously. I committed to oil being my medium, and that’s still primarily what I do,” she said.
Her favorite piece was one she made for her senior show at UCA, which provided “a deep dive into creating it, giving real meaning behind it.”
The summer after graduating, Allgood worked as an intern for professional artists in New York. She then moved to San Diego to work security in a museum there. That experience is what led to her interest in working in museums. After deciding to come back to Arkansas, she was happy to take a job at Crystal Bridges, where she now develops educational programs. Allgood loves this job because she integrates art, education and community work.
“I deal with art every single day,” Allgood said. “I feel lucky to have that because I teach a lot of the kids’ art classes. I also organize and plan basically any studio art class that we have here. Our adult studio classes fall under me. So everything I do has some kind of gallery connection incorporating all the art that’s on the walls and all the amazing stuff we have inside and on the grounds to what we’re doing in class.”
When discussing how her experience has brought her full circle, Allgood readily recognizes how meaningful Crystal Bridges’ learning and engagement classes are for the community. Many of her students attend multiple classes.
“Sometimes they’re new, but a lot of times it’s like a core group of kids that are really growing up going into personal practice, and that’s an experience that most kids in the world don’t have. I think the most fulfilling thing is just seeing how the kids are getting that encouragement and exposure to the arts, whether they decide to be an artist or anything else.”
The museum also hosts events throughout the year that include art activities and hundreds of participants, creating a space and atmosphere where families and community members can come and spend time together. She enjoys seeing the impact of her work and believes UCA’s art department prepared her for this combination of art, education and community and credits her professors.
“I felt like I was in a tight knit community where my professors were able to give me one-on-one advice and help, and the fact that they took that very seriously meant that I was very well-prepared. Number one was to be knowledgeable about art, but also to have that experience and professional realm of what it looks like to have an art practice. They definitely put an emphasis on that, and I am thankful for it,” Allgood said.
Daniel Cockrell ’97, ’04
Daniel Cockrell ’97, ’04 is director of the Old State House Museum in Little Rock. He exhibits his passion for Arkansas history and the connections it makes on a worldwide stage by telling Arkansas’ story.
Cockrell, whose undergraduate degree was in kinesiology and exercise science, realized he had a passion for Arkansas history when he taught the subject to junior high students at the Palestine Wheatley School District in St. Francis County. In addition to teaching Arkansas history, Cockrell taught social studies and civics while also coaching baseball and football.
He had thought of transitioning into an administrative role, but teaching Arkansas history proved to be the highlight of his day.
“My favorite class was Arkansas history because this was my story – our story. These were things that I knew as a young man growing up here,” Cockrell said. “I love the stories. I knew I would go back to UCA to get a master’s in history because that’s what I loved most about my days.”
While completing his master’s degree, Cockrell had an opportunity to work as a part-time tour guide at the Old State House Museum. The rest is history.
“I fell in love with it because it’s everything I’ve enjoyed about teaching,” Cockrell said. “Then there was a full-time educator position that came up, and I was encouraged to apply for that because I loved being a tour guide. So, I get to tell our stories and tell them to people who are amazed by them.”
These stories build connections for the director and strengthen his passion for teaching and learning this state’s history. Arkansans, Cockrell said, have influenced people all over the world.
The “Play It Loud: Concerts at Barton Coliseum” exhibit at the museum features memorabilia from concerts of various genres. Cockrell says music serves well as a conduit for the connections he makes with visitors.
“It allows me a quicker connection to people from all over the world. I can work with a piece of knowledge that they already own—music,” he said. “Then I am no longer a foreign person trying to teach something they do not know about. I’m someone just helping them gain a better understanding of something they already have an appreciation for.”
Cockrell credits a great team and the museum’s mission for his success as director. They are “the best in the field because they created the field” of Arkansas history.
“Our goal is to better understand who we are and where we came from. I want everyone that walks through our doors to feel like there’s something about Arkansas that is a part of them – that they feel represented within these walls,” Cockrell said.
The team works together in research, archives and building exhibits that tell Arkansas’ rich story while making connections. This community outreach of the museum is termed by Cockrell as “invaluable.” They are already making plans to commemorate the building’s 200th anniversary in 2033.
Cockrell said his time at UCA prepared him for his various classrooms by showing him how he can make connections through critical thinking and creating empathy through the humanities. He believes the family dynamic at UCA provided him a unique pathway to share history in an engaging way for visitors.
“I get the chance to talk to people from all over the world about my hometown, about where I grew up and my home state. The amazing characters that have come through here in the past, they do all the heavy lifting for me. All I do is tell their stories.”