Pat Johnson Named Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship Recipient

Pat Johnson
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Pat Johnson

Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts and the Eddie Mae Herron Center will host an evening of celebration honoring Pat Johnson of Pocahontas as the recipient of the prestigious 2024 Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship

The ceremony, free of charge and open to the public, will take place from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 13, at the Eddie Mae Herron Center in Pocahontas and online. The link to join virtually will be sent to all who register

Johnson, a distinguished figure renowned for her dedication to preserving cultural heritage and furthering community traditions, will be honored for her outstanding contributions to folk arts, cultural traditions and community engagement. The ceremony promises to be an evening filled with warmth and appreciation of Johnson's invaluable service at the Eddie Mae Herron Center

Virginia Siegel, director of Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts and state folklorist of Arkansas, will provide insights into the significance of the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship. 

Lauren Willette, the folk arts fieldwork coordinator for Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts, who nominated Johnson for this award, will speak to Johnson’s remarkable journey in founding and directing the Eddie Mae Herron Center, highlighting her accomplishments and the community traditions she's started. Willette met Johnson while conducting fieldwork research for Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts in 2021.

Willette says, “I am thrilled to have successfully nominated Mrs. Pat Johnson for a National Heritage Fellowship. She is deserving not only because of her dedication to preserving Arkansas heritage and history but because she does it creatively and with a community-centered approach.”

As part of the celebration, the Williams Family of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, will showcase their musical talents, while Cherisse Jones-Branch, Ph.D., will highlight the significance of the Eddie Mae Herron Center in preserving cultural heritage and fostering community connections in Arkansas. 

 This event is hosted by the U of A Libraries’ Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts. Please contact Willette at or 479-575-4664 with any questions or for assistance.

About Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts: AFTA is a statewide folk arts program of the University of Arkansas Libraries dedicated to building cross-cultural understanding by documenting, presenting, and sustaining Arkansas’ living traditional arts and cultural heritage. AFTA is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and works in partnership with stakeholder organizations and individuals, including the Arkansas Arts Council, Mid-America Arts Alliance, and Arkansas State University. 

About the University Libraries: Located in the heart of campus, the David W. Mullins Library is the university’s main research library. Branch libraries include the Chemistry and Biochemistry Library, the Fine Arts Library, the Physics Library, and the Robert A. and Vivian Young Law Library. The Libraries provide access to more than 3.1 million volumes and more than 180,000 journals and offer research assistance, study spaces, computer labs with printing and scanning, interlibrary loan and delivery services, and cultural exhibits and events. The Libraries’ Special Collections division acquires, preserves, and provides access to materials on Arkansas and the region, its customs and people, and its cultural, physical, and political climate. Visit the Libraries’ website at to learn more about services and collections.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


Lauren Willette, folk arts fieldwork coordinator
Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts

Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations
University Libraries


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