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Arts & Culture

Intern Designs Touchable Paintings for the Blind in NW Arkansas

Mallory Lind, a Ph.D. Candidate in Art Education at the University of Georgia, interned with the Access and Inclusive Programs Department at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas over the summer.

We recently stumbled upon a post on Crystal Bridges Museum's Facebook page that read as follows: "Mallory spent her summer creating 'touchable paintings' for blind and visually impaired Crystal Bridges visitors to experience artwork through touch!"!"

The post and accompanying photos have gone viral on Facebook and Instagram, collecting over 5,000 likes and over 500 shares since it was originally posted. We reached out to Mallory to learn more about these "touchable paintings" and how she got involved. Check out our Q&A below.

Can you tell us about this project?

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Art Education at the University of Georgia. My research focuses on Rural Access to Art Museums, which led me to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Over the summer, I was an intern at Crystal Bridges in their Access and Inclusive Programs Department. This department internship appealed to me greatly because of my longstanding interest in creating more accessible, inclusive, and equitable art museums. At Crystal Bridges, I worked under Kim Crowell, head of Access and Inclusive Programs, who had previously worked to create touchable recreations of artwork for the museum. Kim and I had previously talked about our shared interest in creating inclusive art experiences and touchable artworks, so she asked that I work on creating two touchable paintings during my internship. The "touchable paintings" that I created are meant to offer ways for blind and visually impaired visitors to experience art, although they can also be used to help many museum visitors understand and experience the artworks through a multitude of senses. It was my goal in creating these artworks to have the same texture and feel that you might expect if the painting were actualized. To do this, I used a variety of materials and techniques, as well as close color matching, to create a replica that was as close as possible to the real image.

Note: A few months ago, Senior Museum Educator and Accessibility Coordinator Kim Crowell traveled to Hong Kong to teach a two-day workshop about her process for creating touchable paintings—tactile, mixed media representations that function like maps of two-dimensional images for individuals with all levels of sight. (Read more HERE)

What did you learn about CB's efforts to become more accessible, inclusive, and equitable at the museum?

While working under Kim Crowell in the Access and Inclusive Programs Department, I was able to learn about and experience the many different levels that Crystal Bridges strives to go to in order to create a more inclusive environment for all visitors. Kim is currently in the process of training all museum employees and volunteers in disability resource training. This effort will help ensure that all visitors, regardless of their ability, receive fair and equal treatment. Kim runs a Community Access Advisory Committee made up of individuals and community representatives of various abilities that she meets with to understand what different visitors might need as they come to Crystal Bridges. There are many different programs for people of all abilities including Multisensory Saturday for the visually impaired, Camp Connect for children with autism, Family Access Night for families with children of differing abilities, and Creative Connections for adults with Alzheimer's and dementia, just to name a few. These programs, as well as the support provided for other programs, ensure that each person can have a meaningful experience at the museum.

Check out a list of Museum Accessibility and Access Programs HERE.

What did you think of Crystal Bridges as a whole?

I very much appreciate the opportunity that I was given to learn about and experience Crystal Bridges as both an employee and a visitor. I had done research on the museum prior to my first time visiting, but the museum, its collection, and its beautiful grounds far exceeded my expectations. I was blown away by the multilingual portion of the permanent collection as well as the many different hands-on and interactive activities within various parts of the galleries.

What was your experience of the region like?

I was staying in Fayetteville, but I had the opportunity to visit many different communities in the region because of my research. The lush green landscape was quite beautiful and offered a wonderful backdrop to the region. I am used to the intense, overwhelming heat and humidity of Georgia, especially that of my hometown in Valdosta, Georgia, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how mild the weather was in Northwest Arkansas during the majority of my visit. I am not typically a hiker, but I loved walking the trails around Bentonville and through Crystal Bridges' grounds. I loved the quirkiness of Eureka Springs with all of its great art and architecture; I actually visited it twice during my short two-month stay. I also went to many farmers' markets around the Northwest Arkansas region where I was delighted to meet wonderful vendors and purchase delicious produce.

📷: @megan_wolo — in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Did we read you were working in rural NW Arkansas? What were you up to?

Aside from my internship at Crystal Bridges, my motivation for coming to Northwest Arkansas was to work on the fieldwork for my dissertation. I am currently getting my Ph.D. in Art Education, but my focus is on Museum Studies with my dissertation concentrating on rural access to art museums. I am originally from a small town in South Georgia with my family residing in a more rural area just outside of Valdosta. Growing up I did not have much access to arts or arts programming because the nearest museum was more than three hours away. This childhood experience inspired my dissertation's research because I wanted to understand what it would be like to have nearby access to such a wonderful world-class art museum for rural areas. Thus, I decided to come to Northwest Arkansas because of Crystal Bridges' proximity to so many rural communities. On the days that I was not working at Crystal Bridges, I would travel to various rural communities and explore the region and talk to members of the community about their experience with or attitude towards Crystal Bridges. I really enjoyed exploring the smaller and more rural communities of Northwest Arkansas and getting to know its residents.

You can experience the next Multisensory Saturday at Crystal Bridges on August 31st from 11am to 2pm!

Animals

Volunteer with a Local Animal Organization This Weekend

The Walmart Foundation is currently awarding grant dollars to area nonprofits for eligible volunteer hours by community members and associates. Here are some ways you can get involved.

This Week's Featured Projects

Below we've featured some of the upcoming volunteer opportunities that involve supporting animal organizations located in Northwest Arkansas.

Human Society for Animals: Feet for Paws (Rogers, AR)

Thursday, August 15th // Friday, August 16th // Sunday, August 18th

The Humane Society for Animals provides for the welfare of dogs and cats in Benton County through shelter and adoption services, spaying and neutering vouchers, and humane education.

If you care for animals and have a soft spot for dogs, this opportunity is for you. The shelter is looking for a few individuals that are willing to give their dogs some much needed exercise, emotional support, and unconditional love. Cat lovers are welcome too! They can use your talents to interact with their fabulous felines.

In addition, they could use some volunteers for the annual Clear the Shelters Adoption event on Saturday, August 18th. During this event, participating animal shelters waive adoption fees for all pets as part of the nationwide initiative that seeks to help families find and adopt homeless pets. Since 2015, Clear the Shelters has helped 256,688 pets find forever homes.

Learn more and sign up for one of the upcoming volunteer opportunities HERE.

Humane Society of the Ozarks: Dog Handlers (Springdale, AR)

Saturday, August 17th

The Humane Society of the Ozarks promotes the wellbeing of animals in the region through education, advocacy and rescue. Since 1944 their organization has been on the forefront of animal welfare in Northwest Arkansas. They assist other shelters and rescues by taking custody of some of their dogs at times of high census, assist with rescue of abandoned, neglected and abused animals, and they take custody of animals in need of veterinary care.

They are currently looking for volunteers for their next adoption event at Brashears Furniture in Springdale. Volunteers will pick up dogs at DogWatch Doggie Daycare in Fayetteville and bring them to the event where they will hang out with them for a few pawsome hours. They allow the dogs inside and sometimes on the furniture, so expect this to be a very chill and fun volunteer opportunity. Once the event is over, volunteers will return the pups to DogWatch.

Learn more and sign up to volunteer HERE.

Autumns ReRide Youth Ranch: Ranch Maintenance

Saturday, August 17th

Autumn's ReRide Youth Ranch is a nonprofit horse rescue and ranch located in Bentonville. The ranch provides a safe and peaceful environment where broken children, horses and families can find hope and peace within the healing glow of unconditional love freeing them from their troubles and sadness.

Each Saturday, they need help with cleaning stalls, filling water troughs, feeding horses, and other ranch duties. All ages find their special place at the ranch; whether it is caring for horses, working with children, horseback riding, or simply, taking a walk on the property.

Learn more and sign up to volunteer HERE.

During the WalmartGivesNWA campaign, the Walmart Foundation will match volunteer hours by community members or associates equal to $10 in honor of each volunteer hour, up to a maximum total volunteer matching amount of $1,000,000. The campaign ends August 23rd!

If you sign up for an upcoming volunteer opportunity be sure to tag us on social @FindingNWA and use #ImpactNWA!

Community

5 NW Arkansas Stories That Will Brighten Your Day

These local moments evoke all the good feels.

1. Pet Philanthropists: Easton and Paisley

Easton and Paisley recently celebrated their birthday. Instead of requesting gifts, they charged guests $5 to join them on their special day. What did they do with the money? Go on a shopping spree for toys? No. Buy a bunch of candy and ice cream? Nope. The two collected $320 and donated it to the Humane Society for Animals.

The Humane Society for Animals has held over 90,000 animals since it originally opened in 1963. The facility continuously houses a total of around 85 dogs and 20 cats.

2. A Passion for Pedaling

Twice a week, volunteers gather at the Pedal It Forward locations in Bentonville and Rogers to help repair and build bikes for those who can't afford them. This past week, over 100 bikes were distributed to families and a local children's shelter.

Since 2014, the volunteers at Pedal It Forward NWA have worked to distribute over 2,300 bicycles throughout Northwest Arkansas to veterans, kids, and others who can't afford a bike.

3. Filled the Bus

Annually, the United Way of Northwest Arkansas launches the "Fill the Bus" campaign to collect school supplies for local children in need. This year, nearly 500 volunteers came together over two days to fill 10 buses located throughout Northwest Arkansas. The supplies will help send over 35,000 children back to school with the tools they need to succeed.

4. Fresh Veggies Brigade

Pictured above is a collection of fresh vegetables donated by three organizations addressing local food insecurity: Seeds That Feed, Cobblestone Farms, NWA Food Bank, and friends to the Second Street Pantry in Bentonville, AR.

Are you a gardener with an overflow of vegetables? Second Street asks that you consider donating any extras from your garden to their pantry. They would love to be able to distribute them to families in the community. Drop them off on Monday morning or on Tuesdays at your convenience!

The mission of Second Street Pantry Missions, Inc. is to help make a difference in the lives of those experiencing situational or generational poverty by providing food, personal care goods, financial assistance, and education. They offer basic groceries and personal care items, limited financial assistance, and a community meal on Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville, AR.

5. Marshallese Got Talent

Lastly, we have a highlight video from the First Annual Marshallese Got Talent Show at the Jones Center hosted by the Marshallese Educational Initiative. We promise that if nothing else, the first 10-seconds of this video are guaranteed to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face!

Cover photo from the Marshallese Educational Initiative photo album on Facebook

Did you witness a heartwarming moment we missed? Let us know! Send your stories to alicia@findingnwa.com

Environment

Get Outside and Give Back: Land Conservation, Farming, and Food Recovery

Internships at the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, unique volunteer opportunities with Seeds That Feed, board vacancies at Tri Cycle Farms, and a job opening at Cobblestone Farms.

Cover photo by Mallory Lane Photography

We recently came across several opportunities to get involved with some our favorite local nonprofits, and you'll recognize a common thread—all are about spending some quality time outdoors.

Three Internship Positions at the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust

Do you know of or are you a college student working in education, environmental studies, communications, or nonprofit management? The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is looking for 3 individuals to join their team as an Environmental Education Intern, Land Stewardship Intern, and Communications & Development Intern.

From giving field trips at the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom and Nature Center to helping monitor over 3,500 acres of conservation lands to helping spread the word about this work—the Fall internships run from August 26th to November 29th.

Now in its 16th year, NWALT is the region's only local and accredited land trust, dedicated to enhancing quality of life through the permanent protection of land. By holding and managing donated land and providing conservation easement services, the land trust protects water quality, local farms, wildlife habitat, and places for outdoor recreation while enhancing quality of life for today and future generations. The service area of the land trust includes 13 counties in Northwest Arkansas, with a core focus on Benton and Washington counties.

Learn more about the internships HERE.

CareCropping with Seeds That Feed

At the end of the farmers' market in both Fayetteville and Bentonville, local farmers donate their extra veggies to Seeds That Feed to be distributed to those in need throughout Northwest Arkansas. The team weighs, logs, and categorizes all of the donations on the square. Several organizations then meet them on the square to pick up veggies for their pantries and community meals and the rest of the produce is then delivered out to lower income communities and other pantries around Benton County and Washington County.

As part of the WalmartGivesNWA campaign, if you choose to do some "carecropping" (volunteering) with Seeds That Feed at either farmers' market the organization will earn $10 for each hour of service. To get involved in Bentonville visit HERE. To get involved in Fayetteville visit HERE.

Seeds That Feed's mission is to help grow healthier communities by providing access to healthier foods. Through the collection and distribution of surplus fresh produce ─ from area farmers directly to local hunger relief efforts ─ they are able to both increase access to under resourced populations, as well as help to eliminate waste.

Board of Directors at Tri Cycle Farms

Are you passionate about food waste and food security? Have you wanted to get involved with an urban farm or food recovery but not known how? Tri Cycle Farms is actively seeking a community member to become their board treasurer. If you or someone you know is interested, shoot an email to volunteer@tricyclefarms.org. General board members are needed as well, so spread the word!

If you are interested in learning more about what they do and how to get involved, they are hosting a Summer Open House on Saturday, July 20th! This open house is FREE and open to the public. Food and snacks will be available as you stroll through the gardens, lounge in the shade and enjoy the delights of their farm-park atmosphere! Their staff and board members will be available to answer questions.

Tri Cycle Farms is a community urban farm working to address food insecurity by growing food and teaching others to grow food. They have a beautiful, productive garden on 2 acres of land in the heart of Fayetteville.

Hiring: Farm Specialist at Cobblestone Farms

Did you know Cobblestone Farms, located in Fayetteville, donates 50% of fresh grown produce on their farm to hunger relief efforts in Northwest Arkansas? Their mission is to grow fresh food locally so they can support and teach the community the role fresh food has on health, wellness and a sustainable future.

They are currently seeking a Farm Specialist to assist in all farm production goals. This position requires knowledge in farming, high tunnel production, pest management, orchard management, plant production, fertilization management and vegetable production practices. Daily tasks include harvesting, pruning, cleaning tools, recording data, planting, seeding, fertilizing, weeding, mulching and composting. To learn more and apply visit HERE.

Stories

Beyond the Board: An Interview with the NW Arkansas Skateboarding Foundation

The Northwest Arkansas Skateboarding Foundation mission is to grow and support the regional skateboarding community.

The Northwest Arkansas Skateboarding Foundation was founded in late 2018 by skateboarders for skateboarders. The founding team includes Roy Rodezno, Wesley McDonald (owner of Stash Skate Supply), Brandon Herbert (co-founder of Gnarkansas.com), and Jonathan Camacho. We recently sat down with Roy to learn more about the organization. Check out the interview below.

Founder Roy Rodezno, President/Design & Marketing

Q: Ok Roy, let's take it from the top, why did you create the organization and what is the mission?

I've been skateboarding for 17 years. Brandon, Jonathan, and I grew up skateboarding in Northwest Arkansas; Jonathan and I used to skateboard on the same block in Rogers. We were primarily street skating because during those days the closest skatepark was in Bentonville and we didn't have a car.

Brandon Herbert, Audio Visual Director/Events Coordinator

Later on, a skate shop came to Rogers, and that is where all of the local skateboarders would go hang out. I remember when we started attending city meetings when they were considering adding the Rogers skatepark and saying, 'We want this park; we need it.' And it worked, we got it.

We had a lot of skaters back in the day. You'd go to the skatepark, and it would be crowded. Now, not so much. Compared to my generation, it seems like the number of skaters has diminished quite a bit.

Local Competition in 2012

Recently, I've been seeing and hearing from other skaters that there isn't support for skateboarding; it's all going toward biking. But that's because people are pushing for that. For years now, I've been hearing things like 'Man, I wish we had a new park' from people in Fayetteville. If you go there, there are cracks. In Bentonville, skateboarders are expressing the same frustrations. If we had an organized voice for skateboarding, we could probably achieve the same thing as the cycling community.

All that together kinda just brewed in my head and popped up as: 'We need an organization that can represent skateboarders as a whole.' We want to represent current and future skaters.

The mission is to grow and support skateboarding in Northwest Arkansas. To organize and to show people that we're serious. This is who we are, and we are here for the long run.

Q: In the short-term, what are your plans?

One of the first things we wanted to do is launch a skateboarding competition. Every now and then there are competitions, but once they are over, everyone is left wondering what's next. We thought: 'What if, instead, we did multiple stops and a final for the crown?' That's when we landed on the idea for the Arkansas Crown, Arkansas' first skateboarding championship competition. There were a lot of skaters I talked to who believed that that would be cool, that they would be interested in it.

Anthony Dezaldivar Longest Ollie at Bentonville Crown Stop

So, we planned six stops: five competitions and then the final. Four of the stops are located within the region, one in Fort Smith and one in Little Rock. We had the first one on May 25th, 2019 at the Bentonville Skatepark. It was an excellent turnout, a lot of people came out. The next stop in Northwest Arkansas will be on August 11th in Fayetteville, you all should come check it out.

NWASF Arkansas Crown Skateboarding Championship // Stop 1: Bentonville // Highlights

There was this guy that competed in Bentonville, 19 years old named Niccy. I believe he just started skating last year. It was his first competition ever, and he got first place in the beginner's competition. He was like: 'Man, this was the first one; I've never done this before.' That's skateboarding: it makes you try things you have never tried before. It pushes you to go outside your limits. And if you fail, you fail. But then you get back up and try it again⁠—the same goes in life. This is what it is all about.

Niccy's boardslide at Bentonville Crown Stop

Q: Skateboarding for life?

Yes. Look, we all have things going on in our lives. Whether it's family problems, addiction issues, or things like that. A lot of us skateboard to vent that—redirect and channel that energy. I know I did. I made skateboarding my life, and during any negative times I would tell myself: "Skate for life," and that would help me refocus and overcome.

Q: Can you share more about that personal experience?

When I was younger, I got in trouble. Just dumb stuff. I fell into depression, and it took me a while to figure out what the problem was. In truth, it was a lot of things. Around that same time, my parents got divorced. It was tough, and I had a lot of anger built up, but skateboarding was always there. I would go skate, and I would feel better. Ultimately, the skateboarding mentality just kicked in, and I said: 'OK, what's the problem?' That's what you do in skateboarding. You're not accomplishing a particular thing; it's not going right over and over. So you think to yourself, what are you doing that's wrong? Why isn't my board doing what I want it to do? It may take a few times to figure it out, but eventually, you figure it out. And that's how I started getting back on track. It's because of skateboarding. That problem-solving, motivation, self-discipline, and persistence that skateboarding requires helped me get back on the right path.

Yes, we are grinding, jumping off stairs and stuff, but we are focused. Once a skateboarder sets their mind on a trick, they'll try anything to pull it off. And that keeps their mind off of other things, other patterns that may get them in trouble. That is the underlying thing about skateboarding not many people consider, the impact it has on a person. It really makes you self-disciplined and self-motivated, goal-oriented and a creative problem-solver 'cause you're fighting against physics: 'Maybe I can pull my foot back; less pressure this way.'

Wesley McDonald, Events Director/Content Curator

We know there are kids out there going through some of the same things we, as an older generation, have been through. So, definitely mentoring is part of what we'd like to do. As an organization, we want to be there to tell them: 'Keep skating, dude. I've been there. It gets better. Just keep your mind positive'. Programs like that are gonna help us all stay connected.

Q: Other than events and mentorship, are there other ways you want to get people engaged?

Yes. This was just our way to get our foot in the door and show who we are. Our most ambitious goal is our campaign to raise $500,000 for a new, state-of-the-art skatepark, located near the Razorback Greenway, with unique modern obstacle levels of street/transition to not only challenge skaters but also upgrade from our older existing parks that are falling apart. It would be cool, you know, you walk on the trail and see this natural skate garden. Right now, our parks are outdated in terms of the obstacles. But imagine if you had more creative obstacles—if you had something that challenged skaters more. Skateboarding is now included in the Olympics, Tokyo 2020. We believe with the proper facility, we could have one of Northwest Arkansas' own compete in the Olympics.

Ultimately, we would also like to have back-to-school and Christmas drives to collect donations of gear and shoes for youth. With skateboarding, you go through your shoes, clothes, and boards a lot. We don't just want to inspire kids, we want to keep them skating.

Q: Anything else you want to say about skateboarding or skateboarders in the region?

Jonathan Camacho (Construction Director/Content Editor) and son

Beyond the board, I would point out two things. One, there is a strong case to be made that skate parks are a good economic development tool for cities. Skateboarders are travelers at heart. Nice skate parks would bring in folks from beyond the region. Many of us from Northwest Arkansas head to neighboring states like Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas to skate their parks and now, when I go there, I take my twins and wife, so we usually shop, buy food and gas, and get a hotel. And two, skaters tend to have an entrepreneurial/self-starter mindset, which also has an economic impact on the community with many of us having started or starting local businesses.

Bentonville Crown Winners

There are so many different types of skateboarders out there. Overall, it's a socially diverse and accepting group of people. Whenever I first brought my wife to skating, one of the first things she said she noticed is that we're all supportive of each other. You may not know me, and I may not know you, but if you're trying a tough trick or any trick and you're struggling to do it and need that motivation, it's just like automatic—you just cheer them on. All skaters seem to have similar traits: they have an open mind, they are self-motivated and goal-oriented. So you'll see people of different races, backgrounds, ages because it really doesn't matter. Once you're there at the skatepark with your board, eventually you just become like family.

Learn more at nwaskateboarding.org

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