Helen Walton and Ed Dell Wortz established the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 1989 to carry out the NMWA’s mission: boosting awareness and appreciation of women artists, who are still underrepresented in museums and undervalued in the market. Read a history of the Arkansas Committee here.
The Committee is run by volunteers across Arkansas with no staff or headquarters and is online at www.acnmwa.org, Facebook and Instagram. Each year, the Arkansas Committee takes applications for an Artist Award, a $4,000 stipend to a mid-career artist, and a summer internship, which offers a $3,000 stipend. Also, ACNMWA maintains an online juried artist registry, open to applicants biannually.
Exhibitions for free public viewing are the heart of the Arkansas Committee’s program. Women to Watch is the organization’s signature traveling exhibition of Arkansas women artists, guest-curated by invited Arkansas museum professionals in conjunction with NMWA’s triennial Women to Watch thematic exhibitions. We encourage collectors and curators to see Arkansas women artists, and all art lovers to discover and support the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Early photos of some of our board members.
Advocate for Women Artists
ACNMWA highlights women artists, internationally through the national museum and locally across the state. Learn ways to join this effort through national and state memberships that are open to all and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Advocacy for Arkansas women artists is accomplished through our programs:
The Artist Award grant provides for artist expenses related to professional development or pursuit of new creative work: workshop training, research, travel, and/or essential equipment or supplies.
The College Internship provides a stipend for an Arkansas woman student attending an Arkansas university or college to complete a summer collaborative project with a mentor in an Arkansas museum, gallery or arts or cultural institution.
The Artist Registry features work by Arkansas women artists selected by an Arkansas arts professional serving as juror. Artists’ images, artist statements and website links are featured on our website and social media for two years.
The international Women to Watch curated exhibition at NMWA in Washington, D.C., affords an Arkansas woman artist national visibility, press and curatorial connections. An invited Arkansas arts professional curates Arkansas submission(s) to national and a state Women to Watch tour of all nominees that travels the year after the national exhibition.
Recent photos of some of our board members.
Board of Directors
SEATED: Mary Harding Talbot, Anna Landers Swaim, Sarah Shell Teague, MaryRoss Taylor, Debra B. Jackson, Kinya Christian
STANDING: Jeanne Parham, Kate Maurras, Sandy Alstadt, Mary Lynn Reese, Marjorie Williams-Smith, Demara Titzer, Virmarie DePoyster, Garbo Hearne
Not Pictured: Elizabeth Cooley Paris, Marilyn Rishkofski, Ann Jennings Shackelford
MaryRoss Taylor, President | Little Rock
MaryRoss Taylor, a Pine Bluff native, completed the B.A. (Vanderbilt) and M.A. (University of Tennessee) in English and course work for the Ph.D. She then opened a bookstore in Houston, Texas, featuring arts, humanities and women’s studies. There, she launched a community campaign for a Houston exhibition of Judy Chicago’s celebrated The Dinner Party, now housed at the Brooklyn Museum. She earned an M.A. in Museum Studies (John F. Kennedy University) and served as Executive Director of Judy Chicago’s nonprofit Through the Flower and of Lawndale Art Center in Houston. She is a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Advisors of the Brooklyn Museum, the Advisory Council of the University of Houston Friends of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the boards of Friends of the Library and Synergy Forum in Pine Bluff. Taylor also spent more than 50 years in the timber business in Arkansas.
Sandy Alstadt, Vice President | Little Rock
Sandy Alstadt had a distinguished career spanning over 30 years in corporate and non-profit communications, culminating in her retirement from Entergy Services, Inc in March 2018. During her tenure at Entergy, she held various leadership roles, including Director/senior Manager of Customer Communications, were she led the company’s branding and integrated customer communications team. Sandy also served as Entergy’s Public Information Officer for over two decades. Before joining Entergy, Sandy was the vice president of communications for the United Way of Pulaski County. She holds a B.S. in journalism/public relations from Arkansas State University. Throughout her career, Sandy has remained active in professional, civic, and charitable organizations in Arkansas. Currently, Sandy is enjoying retirement and has established Alstadt Solutions, LLC, a communications consulting company.
Marilyn Rishkofski, Secretary | Conway
Since receiving her degree in Fine Art Education, Marilyn Rishkofski has been involved with introducing and educating men, women and children to experience, experiment and incorporate the arts into their daily lives. The early years of teaching art in public schools combined with the past 40 years of serving communities in New England and Arkansas with Art Experience, a fine art and framing gallery, have resulted in opportunities to continue educating and encouraging emerging artists of all ages and abilities. Rishkofski has worked with many organizations to develop and support the arts in Conway, serving on boards and in leadership positions. Currently, Rishkofski is focusing on a newly formed art ministry (SPARC-Saint Peter's Artist Collective) where she has developed an art curriculum inspired by the NMWA (National Museum of Women Artists). In addition, the Parish Hall at Saint Peter's now houses an art gallery which features faith-based artwork by local and nationally known artists and hosts community events which connect art to the local community.
Mary Lynn Reese, Treasurer | Rogers
Mary Lynn Reese is a native of Rogers, Arkansas and lives there now after returning when her husband finished his medical traininng. She graduated from Hendrix College with a degree in Mathematics, and later received an MBA from the University of Arkansas. After college, she worked for First National Bank in Little Rock as a computer programmer for 2 1/2 years. After settling in Rogers, she managed her husband's medical clinic for 20 years.
She has been active in several organizations, including League of Women Voters, School programs , Rogers School Board, Walton Arts Center Board, Hendrix College Board of Trustees for 12 years, committees of her church, First United Methodist Church in Rogers, and the Narti board. She was appointed to the first Arkansas Ethics Commission, and served as president of that board for one year. She is an art collector and enjoyed many extended stays in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Virmarie DePoyster, Executive Committee | North Little Rock
Virmarie DePoyster is a Puerto Rican-born multidisciplinary artist, educator, and community leader. As a practicing artist, she explores the complexities of identity. As an educator, she develops therapeutic art programs, providing safe spaces for self-reflection. And as a community leader, she advocates for equality and inclusion. She exhibited her work internationally and throughout the United States for the last 19 years and taught pastel at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts for seven years. In addition, she advocates and works with schools, administrators, and non-profits to create a community feeling and add more art to everyday life and into curriculums. She joined the ACNMWA board in 2019 and lives with her husband, David, in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Kate Maurras, Executive Committee | Fort Smith
Kate Boreham Maurras, a Fort Smith native, completed her B.S. at William Woods College. She taught preschool briefly before becoming a stylist for Etcetera, a NYC Fashion Company which she held for 20 years. She has served on the following boards: Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Fort Smith Art Center, Bost Foundation, United Way, Good Samaritan Clinic, and the Bonneville House. She currently volunteers teaching Active Parenting and the Safe Babies Program through the Sebastian County Courts. She has raised two children who both currently live and work in Texas. She has been married to Hugh for 28 years.
Mary Harding Talbot, Executive Committee | Gould
Mary is currently Principal/Owner at Oldfields Design, a landscape architecture firm specializing in residential gardens and estates. She managed design work for P. Allen Smith and Associates for many years, after helping the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Center for Planning Excellence launch award-winning Louisiana Speaks, the largest and most comprehensive regional planning initiative in history, created in partnership with the state of Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A proud graduate of Pine Bluff High School, Mary earned her BA at Sewanee in English Literature with a minor in Art History, followed by a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) at Louisiana State University, ranked first in the nation at the time of her study. She is certified as a landscape architect (PLA). Throughout her career, Mary has remained active in professional, civic, social and charitable organizations in Arkansas and Louisiana. She is a lifelong lover and patron of the arts.
Kinya Christian | Springdale
Kinya started her art career in 1998, working for a yearbook publishing company in Kansas City, Missouri. Over the course of twenty-five years, her branding work and fine art has been seen all over the country, from Broadway Publishing and HGTV, to public installations and private collections. She is a Mid-America Arts Alliance Artist360 grant recipient, and a Dr. Margaret Sirman Clark Leading With Excellence Award honoree. Kinya serves the City of Rogers as the Arts and Culture Coordinator, and is also a board member for the Rogers Experimental House.
Garbo Hearne | Little Rock
Garbo Watson Hearne, a native Arkansan is the director of Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art in the historic Dunbar neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas. Since 1988, her business has focused on Black culture through art and literature. Hearne Fine Art represents emerging and established artists of the African Diaspora. In 2004, Hearne received her certificate for Appraisal Studies in Fine and Decorative Arts from New York University. In 2014, she was accepted as a certified member of the Appraisers Association of America with a specialization in African American Fine Art. She co-founded Arkansans for the Art in 2015. Hearne is on the board of directors of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, UALR CHASSE Leadership Council, and the Dunbar Historic Neighborhood Association. Hearne is married to Dr. Archie Hearne IV and they have four children and three grandchildren. Her hobbies include reading, collecting art, juicing and traveling.
Debra B. Jackson | Newport
Persuasive and persistent, Debra Bennett Jackson is considered an 'enigma' of sorts. She had a distinguished 30 yr. career in both education/administration and as a visual artist. During her tenure in the high school arena, she was a visual arts teacher and fine arts coordinator, receiving awards for AZ Art Teacher of the Year and Deer Valley Teacher of the Year. As an administrator, Debra worked in various positions, including mentor, instructional specialist, assistant principal and principal. She earned a B.A.E. degree and an M.A. degree in Art Education from Arizona State, as well as an M.A. Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. In addition, Debra had the opportunity to travel extensively by escorting students abroad on fine arts trips, thus the impetus of original ideas were nurtured in exploring and developing her artwork. It has been said that a community connection can give greater meaning to art. Having a vibrant art scene is good for the energy, economy and creative dynamic of a town/city. Debra has an understanding of this, and is not only inspired by her travels and her heart, she wants to make a community connection as well. After retiring in Arizona, she moved back to her beloved state of Arkansas. Now residing in the small town of Newport, where she lived until her teens, Debra is involved in a myriad of activities. She paints her experiences constantly, and her studio, "Southern Blend," is currently under construction. Debra hopes to host a variety of women's' events, as well as continue her involvement in the Newport Blue Bridge Delta Arts Show, held the first weekend in June.
Jeanne Parham | Fayetteville
Born and raised in Illinois, Jeanne graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Hospital Administration and went on to do gradute work in Business Administration and Art History. She moved to Arkansas in 1984 as CEO of Crawford Memorial Hospital in Van Buren. In 1994 Jeanne accepted the Senior Vice-President position for the Sparks Health System in Fort Smith. Following her retirement in 2005, She pivoted to her long-time passion, art, opening an art gallery in downtown Fort Smith. Active in community non-profits related to the arts and healthcare, Jeanne was a Founding Board Member of the Chancellor's Coalition for the Visual Arts at the University of Arkansas/Fort Smith; Founding Board Member of Second Street Live, Board Chair of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum; Founding Board Member of Fenix Fayetteville and Board Member of the Community Clinic/Northwest Arkansas.
Elizabeth Cooley Paris | Fort Smith
Bio coming soon
Ann Jennings Shackelford | Montrose
Ann is currently Director, Community Development and Partnerships for Teach For America – Greater Delta (Mississippi and Arkansas), and also works as a senior consultant with Arthur Alley Associated, a Mississippi-based consulting firm specializing in strategic planning and fundraising. Previously Ann helped open the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, MS and worked there in development & communications for four years, following a 15-year corporate career at Delta and Pine Land Company (D&PL) in Scott, Mississippi, a publicly-traded (NYSE) company where she retired as Vice President of Corporate Services. A proud graduate of Central High in Little Rock, Ann earned her B.A. at Stanford University in English Literature and Communications/Print Journalism, followed by post graduate study at the Stanford Publishing Course and at the Lilly School of Philanthropy. She is nationally certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and as a fundraising executive (CFRE). She was a Governor’s appointee to the Arkansas State Board of Higher Education and the Arkansas Humanities Council, founding member of the Audubon Arkansas board, and past president of both the Arkansas Women’s History Institute and the Mississippi Forum of the International Women’s Forum. She currently serves on the board of Hope Credit Union which provides financial services in underserved communities across five states, and the state commission of the Historic Arkansas Museum.
Anna Landers Swaim | Little Rock
A Little Rock native, Anna Swaim has been a professional business communicator for 30 years. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Hendrix College and a master’s degree in Journalism from UA Little Rock, she worked for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and United Parcel Service before spending almost two decades as communications director at the Arkansas Forestry Association. In 2016, she started Anna Swaim Communications and works with a variety of nonprofit clients. In the community, she has served on the following boards: Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Friends of KLRE/KUAR, International Association of Business Communicators Arkansas Chapter, Central Little Rock Promise Neighborhood, Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission and Broadmoor Recreational Improvement District. In addition, she is a long-time volunteer in the Little Rock School District and Destination Imagination program.
Sarah Shell Teague | Fayetteville
Sarah Shell Teague, summa cum laude French/English BA, and PhD, is a retired writer/ editor and adjunct professor serving as board member for family-owned Citizens Bancshares. Formerly, she was a book discussion leader, 26-year board member of El Dorado Boys/Girls Club, and board member at Williams Baptist University. She is a patron of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (volunteer), Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, the ACNMWA, and the Smithsonian (Curiosity Council participant). She is a board member of Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (former President), Master Gardener and member of First Baptist Church, Fayetteville. She and her husband, Jeff, have three grown sons.
Demara Titzer | Bella Vista
Titzer has lived in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years by way of Southern Indiana, Manhattan and Los Angeles. Her interest in art and film started at an early age. She is an art collector, art curator and an occasional coach for emerging artists in our region. She has been fortunate to work in a thriving film industry in Arkansas serving in various positions to produce seven films, a series, a music video, and two short films. She is serving a second three-year term as President of the Bella Vista Arts Council. Her primary iniative has been to build a public art program. They have seven installations thus far with seven more planned for the first half of 2023. She also serves on the Bentonville Garden Club executive board and as Director of Public Relations for the Springdale Rotary.
Marjorie Williams-Smith | Little Rock
Marjorie Williams-Smith was born in Washington, D.C. She received a BFA degree from Howard University (Washington, DC) and an MFA from Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY). She taught art for thirty-three years at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and is now Professor Emeritus. She has exhibited her work regionally and nationally. Her work is included in private and public collections including: the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Foundation Collection; Evansville Museum of Arts, History, & Science, Evansville, Indiana; and the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Little Rock, Arkansas. Marjorie was honored to create art for the United States Mint, which served as the design for the Congressional Medal honoring the “Little Rock Nine.”