Artist Award

This $4,000 award is presented annually to an accomplished Arkansas woman-identified artist to pursue new creative work. It may be used for research, travel, training, studio time, or equipment and supplies. Award selection is made by a committee of the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The purpose of the Award is to assist an accomplished woman artist to realize her vision, and help to make her achievements more visible to the art community and the public.

2023 Artist Award Winner: Shelby Fleming

Shelby Fleming is a sculptor and performance artist working in Fayetteville Ark. A native of Collinsville, Ill., Fleming moved to Arkansas to attend the University of Arkansas School of Art to pursue a Master of Fine Arts. Fleming found herself enthralled with the beauty and growth of the Northwest Arkansas area and upon graduating in 2020, she became a permanent resident. She intends to use this award toward materials, equipment, and renting a larger studio space to expand the next phase of her most recent project, “Gut Feeling: Phase 2.”

From Shelby:


The body is the center of my artistic practice. Whether it is abstract or representational my work revolves around the body’s fragility and resilience as it faces internal, external, or psychological factors. My installations approach from a larger perspective as I account for the viewer’s body and viewing experience in relation to the space.


Gut Feeling

Gut Feeling
Steel, Plastic, Acrylic
242.5x405x168 in.


Springdale, Ark.

Gut Feeling, Phase 1

Momentary 2022
Presented by INTERFORM, NWA Fashion Week

2022 Artist Award Winner: Elizabeth Weber

Elizabeth Weber, of Little Rock, is an accomplished multi-disciplinary artist, creating in both 2D and 3D, while also working in the Arkansas Arts Council’s Arts-in-Education program, at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and Methodist Family Health Day Treatment School and Residential Treatment Center.  She has exhibited within numerous galleries in Arkansas and other states, from California to New York.

Weber will use the award to write her story of “forming,” an autobiography of her early years, in sculptural form, an extension of a series of works where she has been building and piecing together the stories of her past using nature as inspiration. 



2021 Artist Award Winner: Sabine Schmidt

Sabine Schmidt, of Fayetteville, holds an MA in American Studies from the Universität Hamburg and an MFA in literary translation from the University of Arkansas. Her photography and writing have appeared in publications including National Geographic and Rolling Stone Germany. In 2017, she received an installation commission from the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. She won an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council in 2018. Remote Access: Small Public Libraries in Arkansas, a book of photography and essays co-authored with Don House, will be published by the University of Arkansas Press in August 2021. Get acquainted with Sabine here.

Photo: Don House

From Sabine:

“My photographic body of work is known for its emphasis on place, memory, and the overlooked and forgotten. My approach to photography is inspired by psychogeography, an art philosophy first formulated in Europe in the 1950s. Its goal is to uncover layers of history through paying attention to places and buildings that hold the memory of previous generations. I want to honor the teachers and students of the vanished Black schools in Parkin, Cotton Plant, and Menifee. I want to honor the young men who burned to death in their locked dorm at the Negro Boys Industrial School in Wrightsville in 1959. There are so many others, and I will never be able to do them justice, but I see this project as a beginning, as a series of small acts of remembrance and respect.”

Arnold House

Medium Format Color Film Photography
20 x 20 x 2″
Year Curated: 2019


Digital Photography
20 x 30 x 2″
Year Curated: 2018


Medium Format Color Film Photography
20 x 20 x 2″
Year Curated: 2020

2020 Artist Award Winner: Eloa Jane

Native of Brazil, she moved to the United States in the mid 2000’s for a fresh start. Her unstable financial condition and the many unanticipated pressures of being an immigrant put her in a fragile emotional state. Eloa Jane had been artistic growing up. Now, after a 25-year Architecture career and a drastic relocation, the art of her youth resurfaced as a healing tool.

With little resources, she experimented with what she had in abundance, namely, junk mail. She made baskets and wearables before moving on to more daring creations. She signed up for her first craft show in 2008 and, later that year, joined an art gallery. From then on, she continued to create and exhibit at various galleries in Massachusetts, Virginia and Arkansas.

Some of her highlights are the 2014 WAH Center Special Merit Award, the 2019 Best-In-Show by Artists of Northwest Arkansas (ANA) an Honorable Mention by Circle Foundation For The Arts (CFA) in Lyon, France and the 2020 Artist Award winner of the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Most notably, she was awarded the Mid-America Arts Alliance Artistic Innovation Grant in 2019 which allowed her to create Neighbors & Neighborhood, her first series and largest-scale project yet whose works have featured in publications like artGuidemag and The Idle Class.

The Kind Mowers

Recycled Paper Relief

Picasso the Pet Pig

Recycled Paper Relief

Waves of Music

Recycled Paper Relief

Moonlight Paddle

Recycled Paper Relief

2019 Artist Award Winner: Melissa Wilkinson

Melissa Wilkinson (West Memphis) was selected from a field of 28 applicants to receive a stipend to travel to Washington, DC, for an in-situ examination of wildlife collections housed at the Smithsonian Institution that are unavailable to the public. A watercolor artist whose work currently draws from 19th Century natural history prints, Wilkinson made detailed photographs, notes and sketches of actual plant, animal, fossil and rock collections to inform a new body of work.

Wilkinson earned her BFA in Painting and Drawing from Western Illinois University and her MFA in Painting from Southern Illinois University. She is currently Associate Professor of Art at Arkansas State University.

Learn more about Wilkinson and her work on her website:

Shell Secrets 1

Watercolor on paper

Seeing Beetle; part of series

Watercolor on paper, 8″ x 8″

Gumball Rose

Watercolor on paper

Echo; part of series

Watercolor on paper, 16″ x 20″

Shell Secrets 2

Watercolor on paper

All Surface

Watercolor on paper, 16″ x 20″

Past Recipients



Debbie Finley


Ilayali Alvarez-Hallmark


Maria Botti Villegas


Brandy Banks, Jerri Miller, Lynn Hackney


Cynthia Powell, Lisa Brumbelow