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Arkansas Arts Council Announces 2020 Fellowships

Arkansas Arts Council - Wednesday, September 16, 2020

2020 Individual Artist Fellowship recipients: (from left) Susan Chambers, Erika Wilhite, (second row, from left) Lauren Ferebee, Jody Travis Thompson, (third row, from left) Justin Blake Crum, Morgan Hicks, Justin Pike, Ray Allen Parker and Jasmine Serena Greer.LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Arts Council, along with the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Individual Artist Fellowship awards.

“We are pleased to be able to recognize the achievements and outstanding talents of Arkansas artists in three different categories this year,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the department. “These grants help artists pursue their independent projects and endeavors and help perpetuate and build access to the arts statewide.”

Individual Artist fellowships are unconditional, non-matching awards made directly to individual Arkansas artists. Three independent panels annually select nine artists in rotating categories to receive fellowships of $4,000 each. Artists from around the state submitted applications for the fellowships in three categories: painting, excluding works on paper, directing of theatre and screenwriting.

The Arts Council will recognize and honor fellowship recipients in a special, virtual program at 5 p.m. Oct. 15 on Facebook and YouTube.


  • Justin Blake Crum, of Conway, is a writer, director and producer. He earned a BA in film and electronic arts at California State University, Long Beach. He has worked in documentary for several years, including directing and producing the EMMY award-winning documentary, “Bell Ringer,” which aired on PBS and the World Channel in 2017. He is currently finishing his debut feature film, “Papaw Land,” which will premiere in 2021. 
  • Jasmine Serena Greer, of Conway, is associate professor of graphic design and interactive media at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. She earned a BA in religious studies and a BFA in art at University of Central Arkansas as well as an MFA in interdisciplinary arts and media at Columbia College Chicago. Greer has taught Arkansas Governor’s School and the Windgate Summer Art Launch at Arkansas Tech University. She was co-founder and co-director of the Royal Film Festival in Benton, Arkansas, and has written and directed a short film and a feature length documentary. 
  • Lauren Ferebee, of Fayetteville, is an MFA candidate in dramatic writing at the University of Arkansas. She earned a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and studied screenwriting/playwriting at Einhorn School of Performing Arts in New York City. Ferebee won the Best Film award at the Quarantine Film Festival, as writer. She is also a winner at the Fall Festival at Artemisia Theatre. She is the author of several full-length and one-act plays. 

Theatre Director

  • Morgan Hicks, of Fayetteville, is assistant professor at the University of Arkansas. She earned a BFA in acting at Arkansas State University, an MA in performance studies at Missouri State University and an MFA in directing at University of Arkansas. She has worked professionally as an actor, dramaturge, playwright and director. She is co-founder of TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, where she serves as the director of Education and Program Development.
  • Justin A. Pike, of Little Rock, is the artistic director at Studio Theatre. He earned a BA in theatre at University of Central Arkansas. Pike is the summer theatre camp director at Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff and directs Young Players Second Stage program at Royal Theatre in Benton. He also serves as president of the Arkansas Community Theatre Association, Arkansas Liaison to the Southwest Theatre Conference, and has worked as director, performer, designer and choreographer on several productions throughout Arkansas and the surrounding areas.
  • Erika Wilhite, of Fayetteville, is a social and civic practice theatre artist. She earned an MFA in theatre from the University of Central Florida and continues to train as an artist, facilitator and educator. Wilhite was a featured speaker at the TEDxUniversityofCentralArkansas conference, where she spoke about immersive theatre, novelty’s effect on the brain and the necessity of live performance for community and culture. She is an Arts and Transportation Fellow with Transportation for America and founder of Artist’s Laboratory Theatre in Northwest Arkansas. Wilhite has experience as a director, playwright, dramaturge and ensemble artist.

Painting, except for works on paper

  • Susan Chambers, of Little Rock, earned a BA in art from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and an MFA in drawing and painting from Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. She is represented by Boswell Mourot Fine Art. Previously, Chambers was represented in a one-person exhibition at the Argenta Gallery of the Laman Public Library; Baum Gallery of Art at University of Central Arkansas; Gallery II at University of Arkansas, Little Rock; Isaac S. Hathaway Fine Arts Center; University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff; Arts Center of the Ozarks and many others. Her work has been included in the Annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center, the Spiva Biennial 2000, and La Grange National Biennial, Chattahoochee Valley Art Museum.
  • Jody Travis Thompson, of Fayetteville, is an instructor at University of Arkansas. He earned a BA at NcNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and an MFA at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He has shown his work in New Jersey, New York, Texas and Arkansas. His work is also in private collections in New York, Washington, D.C., Arkansas, California and more. He has participated in residencies in New Jersey and Texas. 
  • Ray Allen Parker, of Fayetteville, earned a BA and an MFA in English at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he later studied painting and drawing. Parker was senior merchandising manager, senior editor, creative programs development manager and photography director at JC Penney, Nationwide Headquarters, in Plano, Texas, where he worked for more than 30 years until he returned to Arkansas in 2010 to begin painting. He is represented by Boswell Mourot Fine Art in Little Rock.

Fellowship recipients will be honored for their artistic and creative excellence during the Fellowship Awards Recognition, which will be held virtually 5-6 p.m. Oct. 15. For more information, contact Robin McClea, artist services program manager, at robin.mcclea@arkansas.gov or at 501-324-9348.