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Documentary to follow creative process of new Arkansas statues bound for Washington, D.C.

Posted 22 Apr 2022

Arkansas PBS shines a light on sculptors, subjects of statues headed

to U.S. Capitol; nationally-recognized sculptor Benjamin Victor

in Little Rock April 25-29

CONWAY, Ark. (Arkansas PBS) — For more than a century, each state has been permitted to display two statues in the U.S. Capitol that recognize remarkable individuals whose achievements reflect and contribute to the collective identity of the United States. An upcoming documentary from Arkansas PBS and award-winning filmmaker Nathan Willis will shine a light on the selection, creation and installation of the two newest statues of Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash that will represent the State of Arkansas.


Subjects for the new statues were chosen by the state’s legislature, and the parameters for the design and creation of the statues must meet the meticulous standards of the office of the Architect of the Capitol. In 2019, the Arkansas General Assembly agreed to replace the state’s first two Statuary Hall sculptures of Uriah Milton Rose and James Paul Clarke with statues of civil rights activist Daisy Bates and world-renowned singer/songwriter Johnny Cash.


Daisy Bates (born Daisy Lee Gatson in 1914 in Huttig, Arkansas) led the school integration movement in Arkansas during the civil rights era and served as an advocate and counselor for the nine students who were part of the historic desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.


Johnny Cash (born J.R. Cash in 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas) sold 90 million records during his career; was inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame; and became known as a champion of the working class, of Native Americans, and of those whom life had dealt a tough hand.


Bates will be one of the first African-American women honored with a sculpture in Statuary Hall; Cash’s statue will be the first of a musician in Statuary Hall.


Through this feature-length film, Arkansas PBS will document the selection, creation and installation process of the new works for Statuary Hall; illuminate the lives of Bates and Cash as worthy subjects for this honor; and reflect the creative process of the artists commissioned to create these sculptures.


Kevin Kresse of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Benjamin Victor of Boise, Idaho, have been commissioned by the National Statuary Hall Steering Committee and the Arkansas Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to sculpt the two new statues.


The public is invited to visit with Victor as he works on the sculpture of Bates at the Windgate Center of Art + Design on the campus of UA Little Rock, 2801 South University Avenue, April 25-29. Groups can be scheduled for specific times by emailing Amber Crawford at Victor will join Arkansas artist Kevin Kresse on Wednesday, April 27, at 5 p.m. at the Windgate Center for a reception hosted by the Political Animals Club of Little Rock where both will speak about the Statuary Hall project. Kresse has been commissioned to create the sculpture of Johnny Cash. More information on this event is available by emailing the club at


Arkansas PBS has already begun collecting footage, including documentation of the steering committee interviews with the artist finalists for the sculptures. Additional research, filming and editing are slated to begin next week, with the delivery and installation of the statues to the U.S. Capitol anticipated in late 2022. After filming the entire process, Arkansas PBS will finalize the documentary by spring 2023.


The completed documentary will be broadcast on Arkansas PBS and will be available for on-demand viewing and streaming on the network’s YouTube channel and various digital platforms. Additionally, Arkansas PBS will develop classroom-ready resources aligned with state and national academic standards for social studies and arts education for K-12 students to accompany the film.


Major funding for this documentary is provided by a grant to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism’s Division of Heritage. Special thanks to Gov. Asa Hutchinson for authorizing the release of funds for the documentary.


About Arkansas PBS

Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. Arkansas PBS delivers daily, essential, local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at, on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), KETZ (El Dorado) and KETS (Lee Mountain).