The Ozark Story Project was created as an extension of “Looking For America”, an initiative exploring immigration and American identity in dynamic communities across the United States through public art, storytelling, and dialogue. From December 2019 thru March 2020 Arkansas-based artist Amber Perrodin, in partnership with DC-based social sculptor Philippa Hughes of CuriosityConnects.us, curated an art exhibit entitled “Looking For America: Northwest Arkansas.” Thirteen Northwest Arkansas artists were invited to answer the question “What does it mean to be American in your community?”
The exhibition travelled to Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, and Bentonville. With each of the 13 artists offering a different perspective, voice and medium, the results were stunning. Visitors to each exhibition were invited to have their photo taken, record their voices, contribute to a poem written by Noelia Cerna, and meet the artists.
The “Ozark Story Project” is continuing the conversation by working to archive recorded stories, poetry, recipes, and photographs contributed by people that have a relationship to the Ozarks. This project is curious about the intersection of immigrant and traditional Ozark folklore and how the two intersect in today’s world to create modern day folklore.
Artist Fellow + Project Curator
Inspired by the Ozark region she was born in, Amber Perrodin is a community-focused visual artist based in Springdale, Arkansas. A chronic grassroots organizer who thrives on empowering others, Amber is the creator of The Little Craft Show and Team Springdale; co-founder of The Creative Social Retreat; a 2-year Artist Fellow with “Looking for America”; and a local team member with “Live in America”, a collaborative research project presented by The Momentary. Amber is also a certified Arkansas Master Naturalist who enjoys foraging for wild mushrooms, swimming in creeks, kayaking, and collecting tumbled creek glass.
Working today as the Artist and Community Manager with CACHE, Perrodin oversees the reimagining of the former Arts Center of the Ozarks facility in downtown Springdale, Arkansas, to be an inclusive and equitable arts center that fosters collaboration and community.
Brandon Weston is a healer, writer, and folklorist living in the Arkansas Ozarks. He is the owner and operator of Ozark Healing Traditions, a collective of articles, lectures, and workshops focusing on traditions of medicine, magic, spirit mediumship, food, culture and folklore all from the Ozark Mountain region. As an active healer, his work with clients includes everything from spiritual cleanses to house blessings and all the weird and wonderful ailments in between. He comes from a long line of Ozark hillfolk and works hard to keep the traditions that he’s collected alive and true for generations to come.
When Ashley Sutterfield started her first job as a Food Scientist, it was a dream: developing food products for the restaurants where she loved to eat. Founding The Local Table and hosting clients in Northwest Arkansas gave her the chance to show off the region’s culinary hot spots.
Ashley has a passion for supporting local businesses — a compulsion of sorts to see local entrepreneurs thrive. She also believes in a world where we care for one another, celebrate with each other, and grieve with one another; a world where we do life together.
Ashley founded The Local Table because she knows one basic truth: food brings people together.
Noelia Cerna is a Latina poet and speaker based in Fayetteville, AR. She was born in Costa Rica and immigrated to the United States in 1994 at the age of seven. She received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Westminster College in Missouri. Her poems have been published in audio form in Terse. Journal, The Revolution [Relaunch], The North Meridian Review, and the Plants & Poetry Journal. Noelia is a reader and poetry feedback editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal, an assistant poetry editor for Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, an associate editor for Sibling Rivalry Press, a writing mentor for Pen America’s Prison Writing Mentorship Program, a writer for Powerful Latinas Rising, the Board President for Ozark Poets and Writers Collective, a community partner and reading host with Plants & Poetry Journal and an editor for Nomadic Press.
Jonathan Perrodin is a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist, who resides & works in Downtown Springdale, Arkansas with his wife and two daughters. Jonathan was one of thirteen featured artists in the “Looking for America” art exhibition. He is also the developer that built this wonderful Ozark Story Project website.
Perrodin graduated from the University of Arkansas, with a B.A. in Philosophy and was recently awarded the NWA Business Journal’s 40 under 40 success stories.
Themes of nature and the human environment run throughout Perrodin’s art. In December 2020, Perrodin completed the construction and installation of a large scale permanent sculpture installed at Lake Bentonville entitled “A Tribute To The Almost Forgotten Osage Prairie”.
Amos Cochran is an Emmy nominated composer, musician, and sound artist based in America. His compositions for film, theater, radio, and television have received many honors, including a 2010 Kennedy Center Excellence in Composing Award and a premier at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. In 2019, he was commissioned by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to create a sound piece for its groundbreaking outdoor exhibition Color Field, and he was selected by global creative house Justkids to be an official artist of the award-winning Unexpected Urban and Contemporary Art Festival. In 2020, his work was featured at the London Design Festival and is currently on display at the University of Houston. In addition to performing in the audio ensemble AIR STRUCTURES, Cochran releases original material under his own name.
Philippa P.B. Hughes
Philippa P.B. Hughes is a social sculptor and creative strategist who produces art-fueled projects that spark humanizing and authentic conversations across political, social, and cultural divides. She is an evangelist for dismantling the polarization industrial complex, one conversation at a time. Hughes has designed and produced hundreds of creative activations since 2007 for curious folks to engage with art and one another in unconventional and meaningful ways.
She leads CuriosityConnects.us, a partner in Looking For America, a national series inviting politically diverse guests to break bread and talk to each other face-to-face using art as a starting point for relationship-building conversations. Hughes has engineered numerous public-private collaborations that have been funded by the Kresge Foundation, New American Economy, Center for Inclusion & Belonging, and the DC Office of Planning. She has served as a commissioner on the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities among numerous other boards throughout Washington, D.C., where she is based. Hughes has spoken at TEDxAmericanUniversity, Creative Placemaking Week 2018 in Amsterdam, Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit, TomTom Festival, Smart Growth America’s Intersections. Her work has been featured by CNN, PBS Newshour, CityLab, and The Washington Post, among numerous other media outlets. Her formal training took place at the University of Virginia, which launched her into a six-year legal career that ended with the Washington City Paper declaring 2007 “The Year of Philippa.” Deep curiosity about the world and the people in it provided the education that mattered most.