When Karen DeJarnette, chair of the art and design department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, talks about the opportunities for art majors, she doesn’t want to take any credit for herself. Instead, she points to an essential donation to the university.
The Windgate Foundation provided a gift of $2.2 million to establish the Windgate Foundation Scholarship Endowment in 2018.
She believes this award had a significant impact and helped turn the program around. The fall 2022 semester has nearly 55 students enrolled in art majors, more than double the number of majors in the 2018-2019 school year, according to a news release.
Examples of students excelling are seniors Asia Brown, Alliza Bolden and Robert Butler, who have exhibits through Friday at the Art Space on Main, an Arts & Science Center facility for Southeast Asia. Arkansas.
Additionally, 2022 graduate Amanei Johnson painted a mural at the Art Space last summer after completing an internship at Princeton University through the HBCU Alliance of Galleries and Museums.
“This paid summer internship creates an incredible opportunity for UAPB students to visit other college campuses and learn more about art conservation and preservation and leadership in art fields. Combined with the Windgate grants, it has made a huge difference for students choosing to study here,” said De Jarnette.
Johnson is now the first UAPB alumnus to be accepted into an international art graduate program, according to the statement.
Since the Windgate Gift was awarded, there have been more students graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Arts Education and Visual Arts and more alumni pursuing graduate art programs. The department has hired two alumni of the program to its faculty.
“It’s kind of a rebirth,” DeJarnette said. “We are building on the rich heritage of incredible artists who have come out of UAPB…world-renowned artists such as Kevin Cole, Jeff Donaldson, Henri Linton and department founder John Miller Howard, and Windgate is pushing us on another level.”
Additionally, Windgate funded four projects. The current project focuses on providing monthly events for various groups, including K-12 and K-12 students and teachers, veterans, seniors, and homeless people. The foundation also helped the department purchase art supplies, such as pop-up awnings, folding tables and chairs, and an outdoor sink.
“We can help our students with supplies and take teaching time outside of the traditional classroom. We can go anywhere in Pine Bluff and set up an outdoor studio. This is a major testament to what can happen when private organizations partner with UAPB to support students through scholarships and out-of-class projects,” DeJarnette said.
Working with community organizations has also helped strengthen the department as students gain exposure and experience in environments around Pine Bluff.
“A painting class last semester taught traditional classroom lessons, but also went out into the community and painted a mural. We want our students to see that UAPB is our campus and our home, but this community is our classroom. We’ve partnered with the Pine Bluff Arts and Science Center to host our senior exhibits at Art Space on Main Street, and it’s another way to connect them to the community. Getting off campus makes our community much larger,” DeJarnette said.
Details: Karen DeJarnette, Chair, UAPB Department of Art and Design, (870) 575-8236 or [email protected]