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UA Little Rock Student Receives Grants to Share Artwork with the World

Art student Macey McLaughlin creates 3-D collage style art. Photo by Benjamin Krain.
Art student Macey McLaughlin creates 3-D collage style art. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

Macey McLaughlin, a freshman studio art major from Paragould, has a goal to make art more accessible for everyone.

“There are individuals who wish to explore their artistic abilities but often feel discouraged, thinking they can’t draw even the simplest figures,” McLaughlin said. “This lack of self-belief hinders their creative potential. Not everyone has access to the resources or teachers that can nurture their artistic growth. My project addresses both issues by providing an inclusive, accessible, and confidence-building artistic experience that can be cherished by all.”

Her idea is to create a series of do-it-yourself, pop-up coloring kits based on Grimm’s fairy tales. McLaughlin plans to design several of these user-friendly coloring kits, ensuring that they provide an enriching experience for all, regardless of their artistic experience.

“As an artist with a dream to inspire others, I believe it’s crucial to ensure that creativity knows no barriers,” she said. “I envision a project that will offer a unique solution, reimagining Grimms’ fairy tales through DIY pop-up art kits. I want to inspire confidence in all levels of artists.”

McLaughlin has received two grants that will allow her to take workshops to help build her skills to complete the project.

She was the recipient of a $4,000 Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grant for 2024. SURF grants continue development of undergraduate academic research efforts at Arkansas’s public and private institutions of higher education and provide funding to encourage students to conduct in-depth research projects in their chosen field of study.

“I am so thankful for the amazing professors and faculty at the Windgate Center of Art and Design,” McLaughlin said. “Getting this grant was a full circle moment for me, and I was overjoyed to have received it.”

McLaughlin’s faculty advisor, Michele Noiset, assistant professor of illustration, said she was impressed by McLaughlin’s professionalism, hard work, and ambition.

“The maturity of her work is very impressive for a student at the start of their artist journey,” Noiset said. “The SURF grant was a rather lengthy and involved process with many components necessary to complete the submission. Macey worked doggedly writing and rewriting, taking constructive criticism and refining until she had a strong application. I was not at all surprised when Macey was awarded the grant, and I cannot wait to see the results of this great opportunity.”

She will take two summer workshops at the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. In the first workshop, “The Movable Artist’s Book,” McLaughlin will explore content, design, and production strategies for incorporating pop-ups and movable mechanisms in artist books.

McLaughlin also received a second award, the Paul H. and Ginger S. Duensing Scholarship from the Penland School of Craft, which will allow her to take a second summer workshop, “Sculptural Paper,” which focuses on creating sculptures made entirely from paper.

After McLaughlin has created the coloring kits, she plans to work with schools, libraries, and community organizations to deliver the coloring kits to as many people as possible. She also plans to submit the coloring kits to a publisher to further expand the scope of the project.

“This project is a heartfelt endeavor to bring the magic of art and the timeless tales of Grimms’ fairy tales to people of all backgrounds and ages,” she said. “By providing an accessible and engaging experience, I aim to ignite creativity, foster self-belief, and ensure the preservation of cultural heritage through shared artistic experiences. Through my dedication and commitment to this project, I hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams and make art accessible to all.”