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Photography Exhibit at Arts Center of the Ozarks Features Hendrix Professor’s Work

CONWAY, Ark. (July 9, 2018) – The “Our Natural State” Exhibit of Photography, July 10-August 17, 2018 at Arts Center of the Ozarks, includes Hendrix College Professor of Art Maxine Payne among the featured artists. A discussion and opening reception will take place Tuesday, July 31 at 7 p.m., at the Center, 214 S. Main Street in Springdale, Arkansas.

“Our Natural State” seeks define the mindset, culture and values of Arkansans by exploring the historical and contemporary landscape of Arkansas residents, from recent transplants to generational Ozark families.

Take, for example, a famous Arkansas photographer, who is also one of the state’s most curious personalities: Mike Disfarmer, born Mike Meyer. Changing his name to remove any association with farming and his family, Disfarmer became known as one of the world’s greatest portrait photographers. From Heber Springs, the photographer set off an international firestorm upon discovery of his work, posthumously. His images speak volumes about the social fabric of Arkansans, and the values they hold dear.

Photographers working decades after Disfarmer – Beverly Conley, Ron Evans, Don House, Jim Simmons, and Geoff Winningham – similarly trace traditions to life in the Ozarks, while Maxine Payne captures present day residents with an uncommon humanity, elevating rural people to heroic stature.

By contrast, Rebecca Drolen focuses on “transplants,” those who have come to Arkansas to live. Likewise, Donna Pinckley chooses diversity and inclusion as her subject, observing resident reactions to interracial couples. Intolerance is too often a response to alternative lifestyle.

The desire to escape responsibilities, to “head to the hills,” is a mindset skillfully portrayed by Matthew Genitempo and Alec Soth. The exhibit will contain images from Genitempo’s upcoming book, “Jasper.” Similarly, Soth is an accomplished author, and one of the most celebrated artists today with images in many major museums.

Jim Dow and Tim Hursley capture places people inhabit, yet these environments are temporarily – sometimes permanently – vacant. Sabine Schmidt creates constructed houses, and then photographs them as a metaphor for her Arkansas home. And the concept of “place” is the subject of Gary Cawood and Kris Johnson, who often photograph at night.

One of the most fascinating depictions of social values and mindset is by Margaret LeJeune, whose “Modern Day Diana” reverses roles in a classic Ozark motive, hunting.

“Our Natural State” is an exhibit of nearly 80 images to convey the state’s vortex of transitioning values, told from the point of view of the artists and their subjects. From a game of dominoes in New Hope, to a portrait on interracial marriage in Jonesboro, and on to a funeral home in Malvern – these visual vignettes can only begin to describe the collective unconscious of Arkansas. As described by Matthew Genitempo, “I made my way through the capricious woods of the Ozarks, and the deeper I went, the closer I came to this spot…a spot equidistant from heaven and hell…I am indebted to this land and its people for letting me make this discovery.”

The photographers curated for the exhibit are among the best to ever photograph in the Natural State. Please join us and add to the discussion on the people of Arkansas. Bring your own definitions and help discover the spot where mindset, culture and values begin to define the experience of being an Arkansan.

The complete list of artists whose work appears in “Our Natural State”:

•           Gary Cawood

•           Beverly Conley

•           Mike Disfarmer (exhibition prints from the Disfarmer Project)

•           Jim Dow

•           Rebecca Drolen

•           Ron Evans

•           Matthew Genitempo

•           Don House

•           Tim Hursley

•           Kris Johnson

•           Margaret LeJeune

•           Maxine Payne

•           Donna Pinckley

•           Sabine Schmidt

•           Jim Simmons (images on loan from Shiloh Museum)

•           Alec Soth (images on loan from Steve LaFontaine)

•           Geoff Winningham (images on loan from Special Collections, University of Arkansas)

For interviews with the artists, please contact Chuck Davis, For information on the Arts Center of the Ozarks, please contact Eve Smith,

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit