In ceramics, there is a technique referred to as slipcasting, in which the artist coats objects to create casts of them. It’s often used for mass fabrication of a single design, but when used in art, it can lead to unique results.

In ceramics, there is a technique referred to as slipcasting, in which the artist coats objects to create casts of them. It’s often used for mass fabrication of a single design, but when used in art, it can lead to unique results.


On Thursday night, the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas opened "A Flower’s Shade," an installation piece by Dawn Holder, an Arkansas-based artist.


Holder, an assistant professor of art at the University of the Ozarks, worked on the piece for more than a year, slipcasting found plant matter, which was then vaporized in the kiln, leaving beautifully fragile, almost alien shapes.


"The piece really grows out of my interest in apocalyptic imagery," she told the crowd at the opening. "I have a secret fascination with dystopia, and it’s about taking something beautiful and destroying it, just a little bit."


The cast slips are placed atop foraged concrete slabs that are then arranged in a pattern, reminiscent of a French formal garden — four corners with a circle in the center.


The show was curated by Courtney Taylor, who’s been with the ASC for a little over three years.


She’d previously shown Holder’s work in "Organic Matters," an exhibition program through the National Museum of Women in the Arts.


"When I moved back to Arkansas from Florida, I scoured for all the artists I could find who were working in the state," Taylor said. "Dawn’s work was one of my favorites; she was one of the women to watch."


Taylor was first drawn to Holder’s work after seeing "Monoculture," a ceramic yard comprised of 75,000 individually cast blades of grass.


The work is challenging, and the ASC skillfully presents the work so that it is comfortable to those who might not encounter installations regularly.


"We’re pushing the envelope with this one," said Lenore Shoults, the ASC’s executive director. "Courtney is our curator for this series, and she’s done a wonderful job finding work that is welcoming for the community, but still very contemporary, very modern."


Marjie Hart, one of the evening’s volunteers, agreed.


"It’s challenging, and I like that. This space doesn’t have the white walls and cement floors of some of the galleries I’ve seen in New York, but I think it’s a good idea — finding out we actually have this here," Hart said.


Shelby Jordan, a middle school student, stood and examined the installation.


"I’ve never seen art in a room like this," Shelby said. "This is my first time, and I really like it. I could come here more often."


After the initial opening reception, the piece will be the focal-point for dozens of field trips, day camps, and workshops.


"Foot traffic for us is event-driven," Shouts said. "After tonight, it will be the other events, then all of the student and community groups we bring in."


At the conclusion of the opening, visitors made their way to the ASC’s theater for the Quapaw String Quartet, an offshoot of the Arkansas Symphony. The quartet, making its second appearance in Pine Bluff, performed string quartets by Mozart and Dvorak.