Occupation: Director of Photography at Arkansas Tech University, Photography Editor for ABOUT the River Valley and freelance creative
Hometown: Ozark, Arkansas
Family: Most immediate: Partner to Elizabeth, daughter of Stephanie and Johnny. Elizabeth is the senior graphic designer at Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Stephanie is a retired high school english teacher and Johnny is a senior compressor foreman. My family’s history, referencing back to the March 2018 issue, could be its own novella.
1) What is your favorite book and why?
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, like most great artists, wasn’t fully appreciated until his demise. I love that his works mostly centered around a time period (The Jazz Age) and are brimming with symbolism. His bittersweet relationship with the bourgeois makes for deep, introspective reading. This cornerstone novel, in particular, contains just the right amount of unrequited love, intrigue, materialism, and social dynamics all tied up in a bow to appeal to a wide range of audiences.
2) Dog or cat? Why?
I can argue with myself all day about this choice. My dog, Dobby, truly should be listed amongst my family at the top. He has the ability to equalize a group of people with his demeanor. I grew up with farm cats as a standard and my best friend through undergrad was a rescued calico. I relate to them in personality — but really, do you ever “own” a cat?
3) What do you think is the most positive aspect of living in the River Valley?
I’m humbled and uplifted by this area, simultaneously. Daily, I’m reminded to be appreciative for the people that make up this microculture. And the richness of our natural lands? Unmatched in any other part of the United States.
4) What’s something no one would ever guess about you?
I’m a pretty open book when it comes to guessing games. However, most people probably wouldn’t guess that I grew up on a cattle farm. Although it’s not what I would choose as an adult, I’m very thankful for the variety of lessons related to hard work that growing up that way taught me.
5) What is your favorite music genre and artist? Why?
Isn’t most people’s answer “everything?” For me, favorite music rotates in seasons and periods of life. Floating on the Buffalo River? Dave Matthews Band. Home improvement project? 90s easy listening. Hosting a summer backyard party? 80s synth-pop. Mountain biking? Jazz Hits (try it…matching your movements to the music is rad.)
6) What do you nerd out on?
I’ve been called a “renaissance woman” by some of the people closest to me. I have an urban farm in my backyard, I make bread from scratch (well, most things, if I can.) I can build basic things out of wood, frame an artwork properly, have a house jungle consisting of about 50 plants and love antique bicycles. I really love learning and diving deep into interests.
7) If you could change one thing about the River Valley, what would it be?
Our mindset. Often, as humans we want to “change others’ minds” so they will act differently. We all need to flip the script and remind ourselves that we need to react differently. Listening more and imparting less snap judgements will allow more quality “debate.” However, one thing I wouldn’t change related to that sentiment: how much people care about the future and direction our area is moving in.
8) Where is the one location in the River Valley you would tell a first-time visitor that they must go?
Long Pool Falls. It’s a hidden gem and away from the high trafficked areas. I always feel like I’ve been transported someplace special when I’m there.
9) Pizza, tacos, cheeseburger, or fried chicken? Any particular reason why?
All of them: if they’re vegetarian and made with fresh ingredients. (yes, vegetarian cheeseburgers and fried “chicken” are real and delicious.)
10) What is your favorite quote? Could be from an inspirational person, could be an original.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” -Steve Jobs