Dr. Gayle Seymour received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1986. She teaches upper-division courses in American art and Women in Art. Her specific research interests encompass a wide range of topics, including Pre-Raphaelite art, American Depression-era post office murals, Japanese American Internment art, and women artists. In 2005, for instance, she contributed the lead essay to the exhibition catalogue Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites for a centenary exhibition that toured Birmingham (England), Munich, and London. Her essay on Arkansas post office murals appeared in the book Sentinels of History, edited by Mark K. Christ and Cathryn H. Slater in 2000. Her referred journal articles include “Simeon Solomon and the Biblical Construction of Marginal Identity in Victorian England,” published in the Journal of Homosexuality in 1997. A recipient of a national Carnegie Professor of the Year award in 1998, Dr. Seymour also received the UCA Teaching Excellence Award in 1993 and the UCA Diversity Award in 2016. Dr. Seymour has been a member of CAA and SECAC since 1986 and has served on the board of the Historians of British Art.
Since 2006, Dr. Seymour has also served as the associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication where, among other duties, she coordinates the Artists in Residence program, which typically brings more than one hundred free arts events—concerts, exhibits, master classes, screenings, readings, etc.—to UCA students and the Conway community each year. Past residencies have included the creation of a monumental stickwork sculpture by Patrick Dougherty and balloon lanterns by installation artist David Graeve, author readings by Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Egan, and Miranda July, and concerts by the Cassatt String Quartet (with special performance of commissioned music by composer Bruce Adolphe, performed at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art), the Theatre of Voices, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Dr. Seymour has authored and received numerous grants totaling more than two million dollars, including a 2014 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (Art Works Opera) to commission an opera about the Little Rock Nine; a 2015 grant from the National Park Service (Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program) to commission a dance performance in response to the Internment of Japanese Americans during WWII; and a 2017 NEA/NPS “Imagine Your Parks” grant to create a 3D projection mapping video festival, titled “Imagine If Buildings Could Talk,” commemorating the 1957 integration of Little Rock’s Central High School sixty years ago. Her 2015 grant from the MAP Fund (supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) for the LR9 opera commission was one of only 37 grants awarded that year out of a pool of more than 800 applicants (4% acceptance rate).
Dr. Seymour is also active in bringing the arts to the Conway community. She is a founding member and current board chair of the non-profit Conway Alliance for the Arts (CAFTA), and the progenitor of the annual ArtsFest celebration, which takes place the first weekend of October. Dr. Seymour is also the driving force behind Conway’s community murals located in Simon Park and one at the corner of Oak and Chestnut streets. Her background in the history of art and architecture, together with her love and respect for UCA and the Conway community, has also led Dr. Seymour into historic preservation initiatives. She successfully led the efforts to list UCA’s Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places and raised more than 2.3 million dollars for the renovation of UCA’s cherished historic buildings.
An avid collector of art and objects associated with the social history of childhood (especially dolls and action figures), Dr. Seymour began her hobby at age 13 while living abroad with her family in England. While still a graduate student at UCSB, she curated the Schott doll collection at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and wrote the script and provided narration for a documentary film on the collection. Today, her personal collection numbers in the hundreds and provides her with an outlet for working with her hands (through sewing and restoration activities), travel, and study.
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