Eastern Iowa Community Colleges has announced the 2023 artist for the annual Arts at the Arb hosted at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum.  Iowa City painter and educator Dr. Rachael Ayers-Arnone will share her artwork this year.  Joining her will be son, Rocco Arnone, and 11-year old artist who has created a Dinosaur Hunt with 6 plywood-painted dinosaurs.  All ages will enjoy the grounds of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum with this colorful and fact-filled exhibit. The annual event is hosted by Clinton Community College through the month of August.  The community is invited to visit the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, 340 South 14th St., Clinton daily from dawn to dusk. 

Dr. Rachael Ayers-Arnone was born and raised in Iowa City and attended the University of Iowa for undergrad (2000), master’s (2004), and Ph.D. in Art Education (2012).  A seasoned educator with 22 years of junior high school art experience, she taught full-time while earning her graduate degrees, was pregnant with her second child when she graduated with her master's degree, and was pregnant with her 4th when she defended her dissertation for her Ph.D.  Dr. Ayers-Arnone’s master's thesis was on Advertisements and Adolescence while her Ph.D. was on Culturally Relevant Teaching in the Art Room.  

In her artist statement, Dr. Ayers-Arnone writes, “The use of primary colors has been consistent throughout my 20-year painting career. I began using only primary colors as a way to blend and mix colors on canvas. I have enjoyed the challenge of creating these bold images using only three colors.  My medium and material choices have evolved from oil on large wall-sized canvases to acrylic on 8x10 paper. I paint quickly working on smaller areas of the composition allowing colors to blend before drying.”

CCC President Dr. Brian Kelly commented, “Dr. Rachael Ayers-Arnone’s approach to color in her work will make for an exciting visit in our Arboretum. We look forward to providing her with our beautiful green canvas."

When asked what inspires her to paint, Ayers-Arnone stated, “I use my floral/geometric paintings as a way to relax. The portraits are relaxing as well, but require more attention. Since I paint in the living room, it's easier to paint the former while I carry on a conversation with my kids!”

Like many artists, Ayers-Arnone started painting when she was young, however, “I started calling myself a painter in grad school. Previously I had tried on different styles trying to be one kind of painter or another, but something just clicked and I became a painter.”  She added, “I prefer acrylic, as it fits my attention span.  I'm an art teacher so I like trying out a lot of new materials. For my own work, I've found what I like the best already. I did start painting some of the floral/geometric paintings on wallpaper towards the end of the school year. Using wall paper as a canvas was a fun experiment!”

Dr. Ayers-Arnone’s painting has evolved.  She commented, “In the beginning, my paintings focused on the subliminal messages of advertising attempting to make the subversive, negative messages visible. I then moved on to painting portraits. In these portraits, I work to capture the essence of a person in primary colors. This quest is both challenging and insightful. The resulting portrait gives information beyond the physical appearance of the subject. My current series is more abstract, trending towards a Dadaist style incorporating random geometric and organic shapes into each piece. These works are more relaxing to create.”

Through August, a variety of Dr. Ayers-Arnone’s artwork will be displayed around the Bickelhaupt Arboretum amongst the trees and plants.  Please contact Clinton Community College at 563-244-7001 for more information about the Bickelhaupt Arboretum and the artwork.