North by Northwest: Pigshibition-Pigs Occupy Fayetteville
Michael Davis-Guiterrez, sculptor
photography by Beth Hall and Paul Johnson
This community art project is sponsored by the Ozark Literacy Council (OLC), in partnership with the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Commission. The goals of Pigshibition are to draw awareness to local literacy issues; support the Ozark Literacy Council and local artists; and promote the work of local artists and the city of Fayetteville.
“One in five Arkansans reads below a fifth-grade level,” said Wendy Poole, executive director of the Ozark Literacy Council. “So we’re using Pigshibition to raise money and raise awareness of the literacy problems of Arkansas.”
The OLC is the oldest and largest literacy council in the state. With a mission to improve lives by expanding and promoting English literacy within the community, OLC teaches two types of students: native English learners and English as second language learners. Last year, they taught more than 200 students from at least 30 different countries.
“You can’t live your best life if you’re not fully literate,” Poole said. “We teach business programs, how to write resumes and get people to job interviews. Getting a good job — and not just getting by — works hand-in-hand with literacy. That makes a better and more prosperous community.”
Though the OLC has some federal funding, they’re in need of more donations to build out programs for family literacy. Since volunteers teach all of the programs, Poole thinks OLC has been beneficial in more ways than literary, but also by enriching the northwest Arkansas community.
“People who volunteer in the community are exposed to a lot in the world by just having a relationship with one of these students,” she said. “This makes Fayetteville more [diverse] and aware of the world. You’re teaching them, and they’re teaching you.”
The original idea behind Pigshibition came from a similar art exhibit in Chicago with cows, which became a worldwide phenomenon after its windy city debut in 1999. Localizing it to Arkansas, Pool decided to change it from cows to pigs and presented it to the board of directors last October.
“With Pigshibition, I think everyone will be buzzing about these fabulous sculptures and the project that brought them to the area,” Clarris Goodwin, vice chairman of the OLC board, said. “Hopefully that extra attention will bring us more donors, more tutors and more students. I want to be one of the first non-profits people think about when they decide they want to get more involved in the community.”
Thanks to sculptor Michael Davis-Guiterrez, northwest Arkansas residents won’t be able to miss the 25 5’7”-fiberglass pigs scattered throughout Fayetteville from July to October.
“We decided to go with a Fayetteville sculptor to make it more about Fayetteville,” Poole said. “Fayetteville is called funky because we have so many people who are artists in this town, so instead of going outside we stayed local.”
Timeline of Pigshibition events:
May to July
Dressing up the Pigs
(pig artists’ design period)
July to Oct. 11
Hammin’ It Up in Fayetteville
The finished, handcrafted pigs are displayed in prominent city locations, chosen by the sponsors. The Fayetteville A&P Commission will have maps printed with a route to see all of the painted pigs in Washington County.
Oct. 11, Piggies Go to Market
All of the piggies will be moved to the Fayetteville Square and auctioned off at the Town Center to benefit the Ozark Literacy Council during the final event of the exhibition. For more information, visit pigshibition.org.