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SWOP Helps Visual Artists Succeed

Arkansas Arts Council - Wednesday, July 10, 2019


Daniella Napolitano

Daniella Napolitano used a rubber roller to spread three colors – a red, yellow and blue – across a glass pallet and then roll them out onto her relief-cut print block. She had specific colors in mind to create a rainbow-gradient effect.

“It’s more tactile,” Napolitano said about the printmaking process. “It’s kind of nice to unplug.”

Napolitano, of Little Rock, is among three artists recognized with awards in the 2019 Small Works on Paper touring exhibition. J.P. Bell, of Fayetteville, received the merit award for his digital photography, “Repair of No. 2.” Markeith Woods, of Pine Bluff, won Best of Show for his mixed media work, “Do you Remember What I Worked For?”

Napolitano earned the Juror’s Choice award with her linocut, “Curia Regis.” The piece is also featured on flyers and print material for the 2019 Small Works on Paper. On a recent Monday evening, Napolitano created a print while talking about how important the Arkansas Arts Council and Small Works on Paper have been to individual artists and in growing the art communities statewide.

Markeith WoodsCoordinated by the Arkansas Arts Council, Small Works on Paper artists are selected by an independent judge. Thirty-nine Arkansas artists’ were chosen for this year’s show, which travels to nine locations statewide. The exhibition opens next in Fort Smith on July 15.

“I’m grateful for Small Works on Paper from the Arkansas Arts Council and having a show that travels around the state,” said J.P. Bell, who has been a photographer for over 40 years. SWOP helps working artists put their work in front of new and diverse audiences and become better known across the state, the artists said.

“I wanted to showcase my work in a place I’d never had my work in to before,” Woods said. “I was interested in getting my art seen by different institutions.”

“You get a chance to show what you’ve done to people other than in your community,” Bell added. “It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Bell said.

Napolitano and Bell have been in multiple Small Works on Paper exhibitions over the years. They encouraged artists to submit their artwork. The call for entry into the 2020 Small Works on Paper ends July 26.

“The main thing is to get your work out there,” Bell said. “It’s a real benefit to our state to have this.”

By J.P. BellBell said he looks at judge’s own artwork to determine what might be of interest. That doesn’t always work, though, Bell warned. Napolitano said artists should submit the artwork they like the best and not try to appeal to anyone. “If you have confidence in your work, it will show,” she said.

Woods, who is in SWOP for the first time, also encouraged artists to submit. He said he made a decision to be in the 2019 Small Works on Paper, then studied the previous year’s artists and exhibition. He designed artwork specifically for SWOP, he said.

Since being accepted into this year’s exhibition, both Napolitano and Woods have been accepted into graduate degree programs. Napolitano, 29, will leave next month for an MFA in printmaking at Arizona State University, and Woods, 32, will begin an MFA program focused on painting and drawing at Arkansas University at Fayetteville.

By Markeith WoodsWoods said he thinks SWOP may have helped garner attention for his portfolio, which he used to get into the graduate program. Napolitano, who originally planned to go into animation, has found her love in printmaking instead, she said. Bell, 71, who retired from being a physician nine years ago, plans to continue to take photographs and put his work in front of audiences.

Besides SWOP, Napolitano said Arkansas Arts Council has been instrumental in supporting arts in other ways, including grants and workshops. The programs support artists’ professional growth and sustain the arts in communities, she said.

“Any kind of support for artists at the state level is important,” Napolitano said. “Locally, in Central Arkansas, I’ve liked watching the growth of the arts community.”

2019 Small Works on Paper