ACNMWA Exhibits and Events

Women to Watch Exhibit Opportunities

National Exhibit Inspires State Tours

The Women to Watch exhibit program was developed by the National Museum of Women in the Arts to feature underrepresented and emerging women artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees or affiliates. NMWA curators select the theme. Local arts professionals curate submissions to the national museum. ACNMWA guest curator Matthew Smith of the Arkansas Arts Center selected the national nominees and the four Arkansas artists whose work is being featured in the Arkansas Women to Watch Exhibition 2019: Heavy Metal state tour.

Biennial State Tour: Arkansas Women to Watch

The 2018 national Women to Watch theme explored the medium of metal: from the ornamental to the functional, regardless of outmoded distinctions or traditional definitions of what constitutes fine art or design and craft. The national show (June 28 – September 16, 2018) exhibited a broad range of women artists’ expressions in metal to demonstrate that contemporary artists carry on a vibrant legacy in the medium: sculpture, objects of adornment, conceptual applications, home furnishings, and vessels. Two sculptures by Holly Laws were chosen for inclusion in the 2018 Women to Watch Exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018 Exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

“Three Eastern Blue Birds” by Holly Laws (c)

ACNMWA members Mary Lynn Reese, Jaquita Ball, Barbara Satterfield, and Tammy Harrington, exhibiting artist Holly Laws

Work by Holly Laws was chosen for inclusion in the 2018 Women to Watch Exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.


Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018 Exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Former national competitive themes include Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 (June 5–September 13, 2015, High Fiber—Women to Watch 2013 (November 2, 2012–January 6, 2013), Body of Work: New Perspectives on Figure Painting (July 2–September 12, 2010), and Photography: Women to Watch (March 14–June 15, 2008).

The Arkansas Committee organizes a statewide tour of its curated submissions to the national Women to Watch exhibit to travel at the conclusion of the Washington DC show. Women to Watch guidelines change every two years with a unique thematic emphasis selected by NMWA’s curatorial staff. Former national competitive themes include Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 (June 5–September 13, 2015High Fiber—Women to Watch 2013 (November 2, 2012–January 6, 2013)Body of Work: New Perspectives on Figure Painting (July 2–September 12, 2010), and Photography: Women to Watch (March 14–June 15, 2008).

The 2020 Women to Watch theme is Paper. Guest curator for the 2020 Arkansas submission(s) to the Women to Watch national show is Allison Glenn, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. Glenn will select the national competitive nominee(s) and the participants whose work explores paper as a medium of expression for the 2021 state tour.

The Arkansas Women to Watch Exhibition 2019: Heavy Metal features work by artists Michele Cottler-Fox, Amanda Heinbockel, Robyn Horn and Holly Laws. The tour premiered in the Windgate Art and Design Gallery at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and featured an artists’ reception on Friday, January 18. The exhibit of 23 art works will travel to eight venues and illustrate the full gamut of the Heavy Metalexhibit theme: crocheted and cold cast jewelry, small brass reliquaries and salt cellars, mixed iron and wood sculptures and mixed-media installations featuring copper, brass, and repurposed ironing boards. 

Michele Fox (Little Rock) uses fiber techniques to make metal and mixed-media jewelry into edgy functional forms that incorporate unusual found objects. Fox started using fiber techniques to make jewelry because the tactile sense of how jewelry feels is as important to her as how it looks. After having learned basic metalsmithing techniques, Fox has been mostly self-taught: she couldn’t find books about how to create the pieces she was imagining. The organizing element among the pieces is her exploration of line. Fox is a Clinical Pathology professor in the College of Medicine at UAMS in Little Rock.

She Always Ate What She Killed necklace by Michele Cottler-Fox (c)


Amanda Heinbockel (Little Rock) creates bronze, silver and gold jewelry and small finely-made metal constructions. The process of working with metal is primary for Heinbockel—from designing a piece to the satisfaction of sawing, filing, and watching solder flow.  She began working with metal out of a passion for jewelry-making. After first wielding a jeweler’s saw, Heinbockel has created functional objects and wearable designs based in her fascination with plants and memories from her childhood home. Heinbockel teaches art at Little Rock’s Central High School.

Windows salt cellar by Amanda Heinbockel (c)




Robyn Horn (Roland), a nationally-known sculptor, carves wood and forges metal pieces into forms that range from her take on the natural world to her interest in re-purposed architectural elements. Horn hasused steel in two different ways, employing it as a material of strength in her Steel Series, and using it as an accent in her Industrial Series to augment her wood sculptures. She sees the conceptual aspect of steel and cast iron in her work as a way of questioning process or function. Horn is a professional artist and advocate for the arts.

1109 Layers of Steel by Robyn Horn(c)



Holly Laws (Mayflower) is a mixed-media artist and sculptor who incorporates re-purposed metal objects or metal materials into her installations.  Sculptures in this exhibit were created as part of a larger body of work titled Bellwether, which began in the fall of 2016 as the artist’s response to sadness over the divisive state of affairs in the American political landscape. Her objective was to explore the disconnect between the citizens of this nation: the miscommunication, the polarization, and the hate. The resurgence of overt misogyny and the backlash against feminism were of particular interest to her.

Bald Eagle Feathers by Holly Laws (c)



Contact us if you would like your venue to be considered for future Arkansas Women to Watch Exhibitions.

Arkansas Committee Scholars Exhibit: January 13, 2017 – February 10, 2017 Arkansas Women to Watch 2016 Dawn Holder Featured in 2015 NMWA Exhibit Arkansas Champion Trees: 2014-2016 Tour & Outreach