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Arts Council seeking nominations for Arkansas Living Treasure award

Arkansas Arts Council

Arkansas’ arts advocacy organization is seeking its next living treasure.

The Arkansas Arts Council’s annual Arkansas Living Treasure award is in its 20th year, and after being put on hold last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group is now seeking nominations from the public for its next awardee. Executive director Patrick Ralston says they’re searching for someone who embodies and perpetuates the rich folk art traditions of the state.

“An Arkansas Living Treasure is a person who was worked in their traditional craft, their traditional art for many years, has amassed a body of work that is representative of and exceptional in that particular craft or art form,” Ralston said.

Award winners should also excel in teaching traditional folk arts and crafts, he said. The council’s Artist Services Manager Scarlet Sims says past award winners have come from a wide variety of disciplines.

“Pottery, quilting, bladesmithing, we’ve had Arkansas Living Treasures awarded for log cabin building, chairmaking, so there’s a wide range of crafts that Arkansas has really had a historical significance and contribution to both in the state and nationally,” Sims said.

The state also has a rich tradition of performance art and dance, though she said none have received the award in the past. Arkansans can nominate anyone they think embodies the spirit of teaching and creating in the state.

“We’re looking for a master craftsperson or traditional folk artist who not only is a master of his or her craft, but also someone who will perpetuate, preserve or otherwise spotlight that craft,” Sims said.

Past award winners have included quilt maker Irma Gail Hatcher, egg artist Lorrie Popow, and wood carver Longhua Xu. The current Arkansas Living Treasure awardee from 2020 is UA Little Rock metalworking professor Michael Warrick.

The award recipient is honored during a ceremony in May. The deadline to nominate an artist for the Arkansas Living Treasure award is Dec. 20.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.