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Rodney Bailey, an art teacher at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School, is the next educator we're featuring in our special Q&A series for participating teachers who learned about cyanotype at UA Little Rock's Windgate Center of Art + Design during Thea's Arts Reconstruction professional development week held last month. Rodney has been an art teacher for 13 years and currently teaches to grades 9-12 with his instruction reaching 120 students each year. We're so excited to see how this new medium is incorporated in his classroom this coming school year.
During the 2019 professional development week, what were some of the personal highlights from learning about cyanotype at UA Little Rock’s Windgate Center of Art + Design?
Open ended projects. Well rounded instruction. Allowing participants ample time to apply the tools and techniques in a way that is self-directed and self-expressive. This presents an opportunity for participants to experience obstacles students may experience during their learning and application. . How confident do you feel about incorporating this new medium during your 2019-20 school year curriculum?
Very confident.
How do you think your students will benefit from this new addition to your curriculum?
I think students will benefit because cyanotype, in my experience, is rarely taught and applied in high school art programs. This exposure will not only broaden their knowledge and experiences in visual art, but will also allow an additional avenue for self-expression.
What do you wish others knew about the needs of art educators in Arkansas?
The need for resources and materials that offer and support participation in the arts
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Being an educator is no small feat, which is why Thea Foundation seeks to provide aid (in a variety of ways) for art teachers, who are often the victims of budget cuts in public schools. During the third week of June, Thea Foundation partnered with UA Little Rock to host a professional development week for several Arkansas art teachers at the Windgate Center of Art + Design. This week-long program provided teachers with a thorough instruction on cyanotype, which is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print.
Furthering the education of and resources for teachers is an important part of Thea's mission as the Arts Reconstruction program also provides funding for the supplies to implement the new medium in classrooms across the state. As a way to highlight the impact of this program, we followed up with a few of the teachers who took part in this summer's professional development week, and we'll be sharing their feedback before the new school year begins.
Lydia Washburn, an art teacher at Bryant High School, kicks off our special Q&A series. Find out more about Lydia's experience below.
How many years have you been an art teacher in Arkansas? Where do you currently teach and what grades does your instruction cover? Yearly average amount of students taught?
I have been an art teacher in Arkansas for 5 years, beginning my 6th year this fall. For the last 3 years, I taught Art 1 to 9th grade at Bryant High School, but will be teaching Ceramics and 3D Design next year for 10-12 on the same campus. Each year, I have between 135-150 students.
To date, what has your experience been with the Thea Foundation? Have you benefited from programs outside of the Arts Reconstruction’s professional development week?
The Thea Foundation donated supplies to my art classroom when I was a teacher at NLRMS in 2015. I have also been to gallery shows and exhibits in the Thea Argenta space.
During the 2019 professional development week, what were some of the personal highlights from learning about cyanotype at UA Little Rock’s Windgate Center of Art + Design?
I felt as if the new processes were things I had some knowledge of, but had not experimented with myself in a studio setting. The instruction and immediate ability to explore the material were a highlight for me. Any chance to work with other professionals in my field making art is such a treat. I loved the trial and error aspect of many of the processes. Photograms with paper and Cliche Verre combinations were my favorite, and I feel as if I produced good work from using these new processes in tandem. I was also so grateful to meet new art educators and make friends in a fluid, organic setting.
How confident do you feel about incorporating this new medium during your 2019-20 school year curriculum?
I am very excited and confident to explore this with students. It will take some work to get the dim room set up. I will need to adapt the lesson plans to a more 3D format, but I feel as if my 2D counterpart, who was also at the cyanotype workshop, will be a great team member to complete cross-curricular lesson planning once we get back to it this fall.
How do you think your students will benefit from this new addition to your curriculum?
They will learn a craft that is not common from the ground up. My students, because they are upper-level, will be able to create the chemistry, plan their pieces, find imagery, etc. The entire process can be applicable to a high school art program. The process can then be a way to build on the why of the finished product.
What do you wish others knew about the needs of art educators in Arkansas?
I wish people understood the amount of time, planning, and out-of-pocket money it takes to teach art to 150 students. And many art teachers have preps for multiple sessions of different art classes. Most art teachers do not just teach one class all day. Many have a variation of classes: photography, painting, Art 1, Drawing, AP, etc. Each of these classes requires its own specific materials, preparation, planning... The most common comment I get from people who find out I am an art educator is, “That must be so fun!” It is SO FUN in so many ways, but it is also a BOATLOAD of work to do it right. I believe people don’t immediately understand that.
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Thea Foundation by Art By Sulac / Photo By Lindsey Pow.. - 1w ago
The next installment of the Art Department, a quarterly exhibition series hosted by Thea Foundation, will feature the work of Sulac in an exhibition titled "Moon Flavor." The exhibition will be up August 2 through August 30 in the Thea Foundation gallery, and a reception will be held Friday, August 2, 2019, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Thea Foundation. At the reception, $20 at the door covers heavy hors d’oeuvres by Heritage Catering, an open beer and wine bar and the chance to win free tickets to Thea’s November Art Department.
“This collection of mixed media pieces is a series of animals (mostly),” said Sulac. “Often times, as a human, drawing, let's say, a duck. I find it difficult not to anthropomorphize this duck, even in a subtle way. This can sometimes come across as humorous, irreverent, pensive, subversive and maybe even, (makes wincing face) cute. It amuses me to take things out of context visually or in some way distort reality, make a new reality, a more fun reality."
The “Moon Flavor” exhibition will showcase an array of Sulac’s latest work along with the debut of his first children’s coloring book. The 25-page coloring book titled “Looking for the Moon” will be available for purchase, and viewers will also be able to see the original drawings for each of the colorable pages as part of Sulac’s displayed work. On deciding to create a children’s coloring book, Sulac said, “It’s an idea I’ve been thinking about for several years. Kids seem sympathetic to my art, and this is a fun way to make it more interactive. The hardest part for me was to not go ahead and color the drawings.”
Sulac was born in Midland, Texas. As a child, he was repeatedly asked by teachers to stop drawing all over his schoolwork. In 1997, he relocated to Little Rock and not long after that, he started hanging his art in coffee shops, restaurants and pretty much anywhere that would let him. Since then, he has had exhibits at Gallery 26, A.C.A.C., The River Market Gallery, Oval Gallery, The Historic Arkansas Museum, Gallery 360, The Cox Creative Center, Wildwood Park for the Arts, Garland Street, Brown Street, White Water Tavern and a variety of craft shows as well as art fairs. He now lives in North Little Rock with his wife Lilly.
For the opening reception, guests can expect several original works available for purchase along with numerous prints, pins, postcards and of course, copies of the “Looking for the Moon” coloring book will be available as well.
Note: The August 2 opening reception for “Moon Flavor” will be 21+ and guests should be prepared to show their identification prior to entry.
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Nick Leopoulos, former Assistant Director of Thea Foundation, has been appointed by the Thea Foundation's Board of Directors to take the lead as the foundation's new Executive Director beginning July 1.
"I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to step into this role and continue the incredible work that Thea has been doing for the past eighteen years," Nick said. "I am also excited about what the future holds for Thea and am honored to work alongside such brilliant and dedicated individuals that make up this dynamic organization."
After returning to Central Arkansas from the east coast, Nick Leopoulos worked in an administrative capacity at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre while freelancing with several area arts organizations, generating new ideas for programing and crafting visual identities. Nick holds a BFA in Photography and an MA in Arts Administration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Nick has served as the Assistant Director of the Thea Foundation since 2011.
Nick is preceded by his father, Paul Leopoulos, who served as the foundation's Executive Director since 2001 when he co-founded the arts-based nonprofit with his wife, Linda Leopoulos.
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Thea Foundation’s three implemented programs reached new levels of success during the 2018-19 school year. Since 2002, Thea Foundation has awarded 399 scholarships, totaling almost $2.3 million in scholarships. Beyond awarding 36 scholarships this year, up from 30 scholarships given in 2018 through Thea’s annual scholarship program, Thea’s Art Closet, an online funding effort in partnership with DonorsChoose for Arkansas teachers to submit art supplies requests to, awarded $54,835 in art supplies and creative materials for schools, reaching 27,063 students across the state. After matching funds, the total amount awarded was $118,919.
“Our goal to further Arkansas students’ exposure to the arts has been ongoing for the past 18 years, and we are excited to achieve reaching our highest number of students through our Art Closet program this year,” said Paul Leopoulos, Executive Director of Thea Foundation. “Funding 145 unique projects, several being cross-curricular in nature, at 88 different schools across the state is truly a milestone in Thea’s efforts.”
Additionally, Thea’s Arts Reconstruction program will nearly double its annual number of Arkansas teachers provided with professional development this June at UA-Little Rock’s Windgate Center of Art + Design. Training in new visual arts mediums will be given to Arkansas arts educators to then be implemented in classrooms beginning next school year.
Thea’s annual scholarships remain a unique opportunity for Arkansas seniors (available to homeschooled students as well) as test scores, GPA, nor intent to major in the arts is considered during the competition process. There are six different competitions to enter: visual arts, performing arts, slam poetry, creative writing, fashion design, and film — now in partnership with the Arkansas Cinema Society. Many students will benefit from Thea’s education partners, including almost every 4-year college and many 2-year colleges in Arkansas, where their scholarship could be matched with thousands more dollars in scholarship money.
Although Thea Foundation does not anticipate every student to explore furthering their education specifically in the arts, the 2019 winners do include students that will attend prominent art schools this fall, including The Savannah College of Art and Design as well as The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Below is the complete list of this year’s 36 scholarship-winning students from across the state. A strong majority of Thea’s scholarships are endowed. For those that are, the name(s) or organization attributed with the endowment are in bold above the scholarships.
Visual Arts Winners
Thea Foundation Board Scholarship
Esther Crisler - 1st place, $4,000
Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy
Windgate Foundation Scholarship
Amber Alvizo - 2nd place, $3,500
Clarksville High School
Robyn Horn, Dede & Karen Hutcheson Scholarship
Kerryan Ptacek - 3rd place, $3,000
Bentonville West High School
Madison Brewer - 4th place, $2,500
Van Buren High School
Robin Orsi Family Scholarship
Lillian Greer - 5th place, $2,000
Little Rock Christian Academy
Olds Foundation Scholarship
Tiffany Hobson - 6th place, $2,000
Oden High School
Janet & Glenn Davis Scholarship
Paetyn Monroe - 7th place, $2,000
Van Buren High School
Munro Foundation Scholarship
Addison Harper - 8th place, $2,000
Sylvan Hills High School
Murphy USA Scholarship
Lucy Gatewood - 9th place, $2,000
Episcopal Collegiate School
Rita Curtis Memorial Scholarship
Margaret Maddison - 10th place, $2,000
Little Rock Christian Academy
Performing Arts Winners
Clinton Family Foundation Scholarship
Karlee Woody - 1st Place, $4,000
North Little Rock High School
Linda & Paul Leopoulos Scholarship
Rudy Fajardo - 2nd place, $3,500
Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School
Hammonds/McDonald Scholarship
Lena Martin - 3rd place, $3,000
Arkansas Arts Academy
Charles A. Frueauff Scholarship
Briya Alford - 4th place, $2,500
Conway High School
Lawrence Hamilton Memorial Scholarship
Sophia Young - 5th place, $2,000
Little Rock Central High School
Lindsey Robison East Memorial Scholarship
Asher Patten - 6th place, $2,000
Harding Academy
Charles Louis Cabe Jr. Memorial Scholarship
Rainey Ross - 7th place, $2,000
Cabot High School
Heflin Family Foundation Scholarship
Cooper Sikes - 8th place, $2,000
Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School
Wesley K. Clark, II Scholarship
Lauren Flohr - 9th place, $2,000
Bentonville High School
Robert T. & Elizabeth W. Seibert Scholarship
Marilyn Ronnel - 10th place, $2,000
Little Rock Central High School
Slam Poetry Winners
Jamee McAdoo - 1st place, $4,000
Little Rock Central High School
Jasmine Willis - 2nd place, $3,500
Alma High School
Harmon Tobler - 3rd place, $3,000
Parkview High School
McKinzie Batson - 4th place, $2,500
Parkview High School
Zainab Shah - 5th place, $2,000
Little Rock Central High School

Creative Writing Winners
Elizabeth Wilkinson Scholarship
Verity Miller - 1st place, $4,000
Conway High School
Dr. Ben Meade & Jane Hunt Scholarship
Harrison Roberts - 2nd place, $3,500
Little Rock Christian Academy
Dena Reynolds Memorial Scholarship
Kylie Wilkins - 3rd place, $3,000
Bentonville High School
Savanna Watts - 4th place, $2,500
Perryville High School
Trevor Speight - 5th place, $2,000
Mena High School
Fashion Design Winners
Jeanne McNeill Johansson Scholarship
Jennifer Mendoza - 1st place, $4,000
Hall High School
John Bailey Scholarship
Allison Stickler - 2nd place, $3,500
Harrisburg High School
Film Winners
Dorothy and Walter Morris Foundation Scholarship
Andrew Verkler - Screenwriting, $2,500
Greenbrier High School
Kye-Yak International Scholarship
Brett Helms - Directing, $2,500
Fayetteville High School
Natalie and Win Rockefeller Scholarship
John Arellano - Cinematography, $2,500
Har-Ber High School
Jasmin Gonzales - Editing, $2,500
Lakeside High School
In August, Thea Foundation’s available funding through Art Closet will open for submission again to help with projects during the 2019-20 school year, and the details for next year’s scholarship competitions, taking place in March 2020, will be shared as well.
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Thea Foundation's Into the Blue: An Evening of Entertainment held on Saturday, May 18, provided an enriching evening for our gracious sponsors and guests with six different performances by four Thea Scholarship Alumni as well as the first-place winning student in the 2019 Performing Arts Scholarship Competition. The Into the Blue stars were also accompanied by the Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School Choir for the grand finale.
In addition to the special entertainment, Thea also announced an awarding for Thea's Renaissance Club President, Kristen Lippencott, who received recognition for her dedicated volunteerism for the foundation.
Thea's 2019 Pillar of the Arts Award was recognized during both Into the Blue events, but a special video was shared during the May 18th event to highlight the impact the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation continues to have while bettering communities across the U.S.
We are incredibly grateful for our 2019 Into the Blue Sponsors. Their generous support helps us continue to fund the future of the Arts for Arkansas youth. Thank you again to everyone who attended this year's Into the Blue event experiences.
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High school seniors from across the state were asked to submit their work to the 2019 Film Scholarship Competition. This year's theme was "Grandiose and Oversaturated," and each artist's interpretation of the theme was carefully considered by our judges from Arkansas Cinema Society. Congratulations to the four students with scholarship-winning films:
Dorothy and Walter Morris Foundation Scholarship
Andrew Verkler - Screenwriting, $2,500
Greenbrier High School
Kye-Yak International Scholarship
Brett Helms - Directing, $2,500 (pictured above on the left)
Fayetteville High School
Natalie and Win Rockefeller Scholarship
John Arellano - Cinematography, $2,500 (pictured above on the right)
Har-Ber High School
Editing Scholarship
Jasmin Gonzales - $2,500
Lakeside High School
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Thea Foundation's annual Fashion Design Scholarship Competition was held on Saturday, March 30. Students from across the state arrived to showcase their designs and discuss their application of this year's theme: "Grandiose and Oversaturated." We're excited to announce this year's winners:
1st Place, $4,000 scholarship
Jennifer Mendoza (dress pictured above and below)
Hall High School
2nd Place, $3,500 scholarship
Allison Stickler
Harrisburg High School
Congratulations to everyone who participated! We greatly appreciate the time invested in creating a submission for consideration.
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For the 2019 Creative Writing Scholarship Competition, Thea Foundation increased the available scholarships from two to five. We’re excited to announce the winners of this year’s competition. More than 80 students from across the state of Arkansas registered to compete. Our 2019 scholarship recipients are:
1st Place, $4,000 scholarship: Verity Miller
Short Story, "Eloise"
Conway High School
2nd Place, $3,500 scholarship: Harrison Roberts
Poem, "Those Things Fall Apart"
Little Rock Christian Academy
3rd Place, $3000 scholarship: Kylie Wilkins
Short Story, "Radiance"
Bentonville High School
4th Place, $2,500 scholarship: Savanna Watts
Poem, “Everybody Knew May”
Perryville High School
5th Place, $2,000 scholarship: Trevor Speight
"Proof"
Mena High School
Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to everyone who entered this year’s competition! Below is the first-place winning short story:
“Eloise”
Verity Miller
Conway High School
“These are Arkansas Black apples,” she said, pointing to the stack of crates in the corner of the basement. I looked at the piles of what looked like rotting walnuts, gingerly picked one up, and stared at her in disbelief. The day before I had broken down from stress, and was now suddenly two and a half hours away from home in the freezing cold with her next to me.
“Are you sure?”
She gave me a look, one that said quite a lot about my sass and how, at 9:06 in the morning, it was not appreciated. She had just given me a lecture on how she grows all her own food, how she can decipher nature like one might decipher a map.
“Is it because of the color?” she asked, ring-adorned hand clutching one of the hideous things tightly as we climbed the rusty stairs to the top of her grandma’s barn. I didn’t say anything when she flung open the door to the bales of hay stacked up nearly to the roof, both of us squirming up onto the bales to watch the cows on the pasture across from the farm.
I watched her breath fan out in the cold, the white vapor stark against her newly-dyed pink hair, the curls still drying from the shower. She bit into her apple and pretended to not notice me staring, pretended to not notice my unusual silence.
“It’s like,” I attempted to piece together, “that for weeks now it’s all been gray.”
She nodded, tilting her head in the way that she always did when she was considering something, and offered me a tight smile. Her cheeks were flushed pink in the breeze.
“Are they coming back?” she whispered, despite the quiet. I looked down at the sad excuse of a fruit in my palms, the black that blended with the furious shades of crimson and spots of green, and then back up to her eyes, that steady brown, the soft yellow of the hay beneath us, the bright blue of the bluejays that were fighting for ownership of the pear trees that lined the property.
“There used to be more fruit, you know, when my grandma was younger. But as she aged she couldn’t care for it all, even though she thought she could...now it’s all just overgrown and lost.”
She hummed at the emptiness of what must have once been a flourishing orchard, and then abruptly flung her core over the bales, and stood roughly.
“C’mon, I’ll show you more.”
I stuffed the apple into the pocket of my coat, and we left. She headed to the northern portion of the property with me stumbling after her, ducking underneath the hot wire and tramping through the tickly grass, avoiding cow patties.
She walked like how she did everything: loud, confident, and with an air of internal peace. Even with the sun barely able to keep up with the morning frost, she was still the brightest thing in the sudden expanse of horizon before us. It was her boisterous hair and laugh, and the endless hues of bare bark along the edge of the fence, the nakedness of the trees comforting in my own vulnerability.
This landscape, carved by hands just as strong as her own, sculpted by the thunder of horses, of foundations of homes that had been lived in and loved in for generations, so different from my own. I felt plain in comparison to all the hard work around me.
She bent down suddenly, and I was unable to flee as she reached up, gathered a handful of my coat, and pulled me down to her.
“Look,” her eyes burned into mine, “an ice flower.”
It was small and delicate, layers of nothing wrapped around a dying blade of grass, but she had no hesitation in pulling it apart from where it was clinging to, holding it up to the light.
There was an army of ginko leaves on the ground beneath us, and they were raining down with the wind; one of them caught in the curve of her neck. She fussed it away and quickly pushed the ice flower towards me.
“Quick, it’s melting! Eat it!”
So there was ice in my mouth. It was too far into November to properly eat anything this cold, but I could feel the ridges of the ice just before it melted, was able to crush it under my teeth. It was sharp and brilliant and I enjoyed the way it was gone just as soon as it was there.
“So?” she said, eyebrows high.
“That was stupidly cold. There was also probably dirt in that, or something.”
“It’s good for the immune system. Wanna see the creek?”
I nodded, and the next time I stumbled when we were walking, she took my hand to steady me.
The trees were stronger where they weren’t contained, and they reached out for my hair desperately, held onto my ankles. I fought and she helped to pull me through, laughed loudly when I saw the rushing water, the sun reflecting off the moss that consumed all the rocks in sight.
“You get used to this when it’s your home. This is all mine, in a way, I guess; sometimes I wonder if it’d be different if this wasn’t where I was raised.”
“It’s really nice,” I said. She beamed, and we sat on the tiny cliff face.
“Can you see more, now? Is this gray too?” she asked.
“No,” I told the ground, smiling despite myself. “There’s more, now.”
“Well,” she said, “what are you waiting for?”
I reached into my pocket for the apple, not willing to hesitate as I bit into it harshly, tangy and sweet and lovely and bright on my tongue. It immediately ruined any other apples for me, this gross-looking monster.
“I think I’m ready to see more,” I told her.
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Thea Foundation by Photography By Heather Canterbury - 4M ago
Five students were awarded scholarships on Saturday, March 23, after three rounds of spoken word for our annual Slam Poetry Scholarship Competition held at Thea’s North Little Rock gallery space. As with every year, we’re inspired by the incredible confidence displayed by each participating student. Congratulations to this year’s winners:
1st Place - $4,000 (pictured above)
Jamee McAdoo - Central High School
2nd Place - $3,500 (pictured above)
Jasmine Willis - Alma High School
3rd Place - $3,000 (pictured above)
Harmon Tobler - Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School
4th Place - $2,500 (pictured above)
McKinzie Batson - Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School
5th Place - $2,000 (pictured above)
Zainab Shah - Central High School

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