UCA to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Artist Fabiola Jean-Louis discusses her project with project partners at Green Bay Packaging, Arkansas Kraft Division, in Morrilton during a site visit on Aug. 9, 2022. Photo courtesy Gayle Seymour.

The University of Central Arkansas has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Grants for Arts Projects award of $30,000. The funds will support a three-month visual art residency with nationally known, Haitian-born paper sculptor Fabiola Jean-Louis. This grant, authored by Gayle Seymour, associate dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects awards totaling nearly $28.8 million that the NEA announced as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.

During the residency, Jean-Louis, in collaboration with UCA and Morrilton High School students, will create the Brooklyn-based artist’s next major body of work: an immersive mausoleum sculpture made of paper clay. The interior walls of the structure will contain artifacts made by student collaborators. The work will also feature one of Jean-Louis’s signature couture sculptures made of sheet paper. Tawny Chatmon, a photography-based artist from Maryland, will also contribute work to this project.

“UCA’s artists-in-residence program is dedicated to bringing world-class artists to our campus,” said Seymour. “Through our student arts fee and major grants like this one from the NEA, we coordinate about 100 events a year for students. I often receive feedback from visiting artists who tell me that few campuses are doing what we’re doing here at UCA. It is an honor to receive this NEA grant, knowing that experts at the national level have reviewed the project and are willing to support it financially.” 

Jean-Louis’s project will include paper and paper pulp generously donated from the Arkansas Kraft Division of Green Bay Packaging in Morrilton. Chatmon will be working with families of students at Dunbar Magnet Middle School in Little Rock to help them create photography-based art combined with other media like paint and gold leaf.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson. “Projects such as this one with UCA strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”

The project is also supported by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the Alice Walton Fund, the UCA Office of Research and Sponsored program and the UCA arts fee. 

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.