From the moment Lenore Shoults starts talking about the pieces contained in the “UAPB & ASC: Five Decades of Collaboration” exhibit, visitors are swept up in her excitement.

“We have nationally-renown artists in this exhibit,” and all got their start or have connections to the UAPB (the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), says the curator of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas.

“This exhibition features artwork from ASC’s permanent collection by UAPB faculty and students.”

UAPB, a historically black college in existence for over 140 years, and the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018, have enjoyed decades of collaboration, Shoults adds.

Few people realize the influence the traditionally-black institution has had on modern art, starting with nationally-acclaimed artist Isaac S. Hathaway, who was recruited to then-Branch Normal College (now UAPB) in 1915 to teach ceramics, Shoults says.

Later, John Miller Howard came to the college, which was then renamed the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College, and established an art department in 1939. Also a nationally-recognized artist, he hired talented artists and educators such as Henry Linton. These artists in turn influenced the likes of Kevin Cole and Jeff Donaldson.

Donaldson, who grew up in Pine Bluff and graduated from UAPB, “helped found AfriCOBRA (Commune of Bad Relevant Artists. It was part of the Black Arts Movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and continues today,” Shoults says.

Linton, UAPB Art Department chairman for 47 years, was an invaluable resource in putting together this exhibit, even loaning ASC a replica piece by Hathaway titled “Booker T. Washington,” Shoults adds.

Through a series of conversations with Linton, Shoults was able to feature students who won recognition for their artwork.

Artists with UAPB connections and who are part of the exhibit include Danny Campbell, Tarrence Corbin, Earnest Davidson, Williams Detmers, Fred Schmidt, Joe Norman, Sheila Cantrell, Cathy Burns and Rosalie Bushnok.

Shoults says that the “exhibition is a testament to the UAPB art faculty both through their own art and their teaching, which has guided students on to national acclaim.”

Of special note, Shoults says June Freeman, who was a founding force in the formation of the Arts & Science Center, along with Campbell and Linton, attended the Feb. 2 opening reception for “UAPB & ASC: Five Decades of Collaboration.”

The exhibit runs through Saturday, Nov. 3, and admission is free.

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas is located at 701 S. Main Street and is open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Details: Call (870) 536-3375, or go to: www.asc701.org.