On View Now: Natural Connections and More
Natural Connections: Paintings by Emily Moll Wood and Laura Brainard Raborn
Through Saturday, January 28, 2023
Loft Gallery, CALS Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square, Roberts Library
This exciting collection of paintings by Emily Moll Wood and Laura Brainard Raborn explores a visual dialogue with the natural world and nature’s deep connections to their own family histories.
Emily Moll Wood says, “The work in this show examines the connections and differences between the lives my female forebears and I have led, reflecting broader social changes.”
Laura Brainard Raborn says, “I initially considered my deep fascination with the visible miracles in our natural world… My interest stems from pervasive childhood memories and relationships with my mother, aunt, and grandmother, who were knowledgeable and passionate gardeners.”
Emily Moll Wood
When the pandemic began, while homebound, I surprisingly found solace in observing and painting flowers as they took turns blooming. I have obsessively painted flowers each spring since, wondering why exactly it made me feel so good. One reason, I realized, was the connection I felt to the women in my family who came before me. I come from a line of makers, master gardeners, hellraisers, and aesthetes.
I set out to explore the influence and connections to my maternal lineage. Working from the many flower studies, combined with sketches from old photos of myself, my mother, my grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, I create large paintings on inherited old tablecloths to draw attention to undervalued domestic work. The work in this show examines the connections and differences between the lives my female forebears and I have led, reflecting broader social changes.
I am drawn to the flow and transparency of watery paint on various absorbent surfaces. The process of observing and translating faces, figures, and flowers into paintings is therapeutic, is meditative, and brings me joy. I enjoy the challenge of how to control it as much as the medium and surface will allow, but while also embracing the unpredictability of it. This is an appropriate metaphor to my life right now—raising small children while trying to maintain a career and grow as an artist. My work functions to literalize the balance between control and release through its materiality and its subject matter.
Emily Moll Wood paints a lot of portraits, and more recently an obsessive number of flowers, most of which are done in watercolor and on a variety of surfaces. She holds an MA in painting from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has taught painting classes for over fifteen years, most being at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. Her work has been accepted into and won awards in numerous juried exhibitions. Wood’s work can be found in many private and public collections such as the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Springfield (MO) Art Museum. She lives in Little Rock with her partner JD and two young children.
Laura Brainard Raborn
When asked why elements of nature appear in my figurative paintings, I initially considered my deep fascination with the visible miracles in our natural world. The veins in a leaf, the spiral pattern in petals, the defense mechanism seen (or felt!) in thorns are all signs of design that constantly ignite curiosity and wonder. My interest stems from pervasive childhood memories and relationships with my mother, aunt, and grandmother, who were knowledgeable and passionate gardeners. In addition to years of shared information, they taught me to look closely at our natural surroundings. They taught me to care and to notice. There is a certain element of control in gardening, and I became equally interested in wild growth, especially when nature takes over something manmade. This theme was the basis of my portfolio when applying to graduate school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock years ago. There, I became enamored with the figure as an attempt to create paintings that reflect shared human experiences.
This exhibition includes work that reflects the combination of my two greatest interests in art: nature and the human figure. Occasionally, botanical elements combine with the human face, but more often natural growth is part of the surrounding space, interrupting or filling parts of the body. Patterns from nature contrast—as well as relate to—the body. Despite our human tendency to see ourselves as separate, we are part of the natural world. We are one with nature.
Laura Brainard Raborn has had paintings exhibited in multiple collections in Arkansas, throughout the U.S., and in the Bahamas. Her work has earned numerous awards and has appeared in publications such as Women Make Arkansas: Conversations with 50 Creatives by Erin Wood of Et Alia Press. An interview about her most recent work can be found at https://www.arkansasartscene.com/home/interview-with-artist-laura-raborn. After receiving a BA from Rollins College, Raborn worked in marketing for six years and took evening classes at the what is now the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. Later, at UA Little Rock, she earned a master’s in art while working as a graduate assistant. More recently, she has participated in three prestigious art residencies: the Women’s International Study Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia; and Breck Create in Breckenridge, Colorado. Raborn has also recently increased her mixed media workshop teaching in various art schools such as the Ah Haa School for the Arts in Telluride, Colorado, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Other Exhibitions at the Galleries:
Our Community Through My Lens
Through Saturday, December 31, 2022
Landing Gallery, Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square, CALS Roberts Library
Photography—a medium full of potential. To speak when words simply fail. To empower, providing the chance to take control of a story. To connect us to a perspective outside of our own.
Join us for this unique exhibition, curated from artists currently unsheltered or living in transitional sheltering throughout Pulaski County. Each participant was given a disposable camera to document their lived experience. See the Central Arkansas community through their lens. Sponsored by the Windgate Foundation Grant for the Arts
Illustrated Arkansas: The Art of Comics
Through Saturday, January 28, 2023
Underground Gallery, Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square, CALS Roberts Library
The Illustrated Arkansas exhibition features artists living and working in the state who have created or contributed to print or digital comics and graphic novels. The exhibition represents a wide range of illustration styles and media of the comics art form.
CALS is excited to display the artwork of graphic artists and spotlight their efforts in the creation of comics and graphic novels in all their forms. CALS would especially like to thank Randy Duncan, the director for the Center for Comics Studies at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, for the concept of the exhibition and all his challenging work in making it happen.
Visiting information for the Galleries & Bookstore at Library Square in the CALS Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art in downtown Little Rock can be found here.