We want to welcome a (relatively) new staff member to Crystal Bridges’ Membership team. Brady Plunger is the new Associate Museum Educator in charge of creating and managing great experiences for the Museum’s artinfusion Members. One of the first programs he is heading up is the new artinfusion Excursion program. This new series invites artinfusion Members to explore creative spaces in Northwest Arkansas and connect with creative people to become more engaged with the dynamic culture of our region.
The first artinfusion Excursion was an evening filled with art, conversation, and beautiful views of the Northwest Arkansas landscape from the home and studio of regional artist Sharon Killian. Here, Brady offers up an overview of the event and a list of further Excursions coming up!
This summer, Killian and her husband, Charles, opened their home to 50 artinfusion Members and several special guests, including Crystal Bridges’ Director of Curatorial Affairs Margi Conrads and Lauren Haynes, the newest member of the curatorial team at the Museum. Over the course of the evening, guests were free to wander through the Killians’ beautiful home—perched quite literally on the side of a mountain near Goshen—and experience Sharon’s studio space and unique pastel process.
The Killians’ home sits upon its hilly perch like a modern-day sphinx, surveying the expansive valley created by the White River. As Charles explained in his architecture tour, the design of the house reflects elements of Arkansas “vernacular” architecture—that is, the local style of farm buildings—as well as elements of modern architecture. Exposed beams support the roof and wide banks of windows showcase the natural beauty of the surroundings while the arrangement of indoor and outdoor spaces creates a comfortable flow that makes the house perfect for entertaining. The Killians worked closely with architect Thomas DeNoble to ensure the house would fit their creative vision.
In a way, visiting the Killians’ residence is like visiting Crystal Bridges, in that this place brings together the beauty of visual art, stunning architecture, and striking natural beauty. For Sharon, her work as an artist, her home, and the landscape are connected. While discussing her work in her studio, Sharon would frequently hold up a print or draw the audience’s attention to a pastel painting and then gesture toward the landscape and say simply “That’s it,” emphasizing the strong bond she sees between her work and her sense of place. Given Sharon’s personal attachment to the landscape and to her work, it is easy to imagine that she sees Arkansas in each one of her paintings.
“My home provides an expansive view of the western and northern skies and nature continually challenges me to create a response through my art. I strive to create the essence of the subject in my work to give the viewer a taste of my sensory experience. I capture the elements in a non-figurative way, but one that is highly evocative of this beauty around us. It is at once abstract and realist.” — Sharon Killian
The warmth and generosity of spirit with which Sharon and Charles welcomed artinfusion into their home was what truly made the first artinfusion Excursion a success. Artinfusion Member Bianca Montoya summarized the experience with a poignant Facebook posting that read: “Spending just a few hours with Sharon Killian sharpened something inside of me. To love life and humanity the way she does, now that’s something to aspire to. Her warmth seeped into my soul never to be forgotten.”
And that, friends, is what artinfusion Excursions are all about.
Interested in attending future excursions? Become a Crystal Bridges Member and add-on artinfusion! You can join online at crystalbridges.org/membership, by calling the Member Priority Line at 479.418.5728, or by visiting Guest Services in the Museum’s main lobby.
Make sure to stay tuned by liking our Facebook page! Our next Excursion, on November 19, will be a visit to the Joy Markham Gallery at Walton Arts Center during their grand re-opening weekend. The artinfusion Excursion series will return in March 2017. Special thanks to all of our sponsors: Saatchi & Saatchi X, RopeSwing, The Hershey Company, Wright Lindsey Jennings, and Blue Moon Brewing Company.