School of Art Assistant Professor Creates Connection at The Momentary

Nick Cave: Until exhibition program
Photos by Ironside Photography, courtesy of the Momentary/Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Nick Cave: Until exhibition program

The School of Art in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences congratulates assistant professor Adrienne Callander on "#littlesweaterhug: Reckoning and Reconciliation," a visual art performance at the Momentary in collaboration with the recent exhibition "Until" by Nick Cave.

Callander was positioned within the exhibition on the upper mezzanine of the Momentary from the end of October through New Year's Eve with a knitting stool and basket by her side. 

As the community experienced the wonders of Cave's exhibition, they also had the opportunity to speak with Callander about reckoning and reconciliation. She recorded the conversations in her work by switching out yarn colors based on the tenor of the discussion. 

Callander started #littlesweaterhug in April 2020 when Covid-19 shut down much of the country and world. She saw how the virus was leading to deep isolation and how many felt a loss of contact and literal touch.

"I whimsically posted to Instagram asking if anyone needed a hug," said Callander. "I wrote, 'I knit one for you.' It turned out a lot of people needed one."

Photo from the Nick Cave: Until exhibitionCallander sent #littlesweaterhug across the country. As individuals received the sweaters they took to social media sharing gratitude, appreciation and even the healing they felt as they held the knitted originals to their chest.

"#littlesweaterhug is a great example of Adrienne Callander's ability to connect diverse communities in unexpected ways, and to imbue our everyday experiences with transformative insight," said Sam King, program director of studio art.

The Momentary shared that artist Nick Cave came to see himself as a messenger, endeavoring to bring communities together, discuss important issues and ultimately heal through art. With this mission, 11 local and regional artists were invited to create their own responses utilizing the galleries as a studio and stage to connect with the community.

Callander was invited in the summer to bring #littlesweaterhug into Until and reflected deeply on how the project could grow further connection.

She describes exploring themes beyond the original project inspiration. This exploration led her to reflect on the nature of reckoning and reconciliation and to a sense of connection to Cave's three-story hanging beaded work emblazoned with the word, "POWER." This piece was displayed on the Momentary's upper mezzanine. It was here she felt emboldened to talk with people about facing hard truths and forging a new fabric.

Conversations with Callander were led by the people visiting the exhibition. The topics brought up were vast, leading to discussions about racism, peace, conflict, deferred dreams, knitting, farming in South Dakota, passing of loved ones, challenges of running small businesses during the pandemic,and the day John Lennon was killed.

"One visitor told me, "we cannot have a reconciliation without a reckoning," which then led to a discussion about how we must not skip the critical step of facing hard truths," said Callander. "Another visitor shared, "I worry that we might miss the moment of healing."

Callander explained that the direction the conversations took shape the experience and the product. 

"#littlesweaterhug started with a connection, it was collaborative to begin with because it operated as a gift, as an act of offering and receiving," Callander added. "The act does not exist without exchange. As we developed #littlesweaterhug for this special edition, I asked myself how it could grow connection."

The answer for Callander was in the details.

"The commissioned poem "Reckoning and Reconciliation" by Rona Lebo, the hangers displaying the sweaters by Vincent Edwards Design and the support the proceeds engendered to launch the Open Mouth Reading Series poet-in-residence program at Mt. Sequoyah's Creative Spaces, these extend the vision of connection and exchange at the heart of both #littlesweaterhug and the Until Artist Responses series," said Callander.

Connection is a common theme in Callander's research and teaching. In addition to the funding support through #littlesweaterhug, the Open Mouth Reading Series poet-in-residence program and application was developed by students in her arts entrepreneurship class.

The sweaters Callander created are still on sale at the Momentary Shop through the end of January. To see the evolution of #littlesweaterhug, follow @littlesweaterhug on Instagram. 

Contacts

Kayla Crenshaw, director of communications
School of Art
479-321-9636, kaylac@uark.edu

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