The exhibit by artist Matty Davis, and several collaborators, will open in the U of A Fine Arts Center Gallery on Aug. 31.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A new exhibit by artist Matty Davis, “Until it reached into our lives and destroyed the tranquility that we had” opens Friday, Aug. 31, at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery.

The exhibit was arranged by curator Michael Maizels, assistant professor of art history in the School of Art, part of the J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

The exhibit is inspired by the events, legends, facts and myths surrounding the saga of Barry Seal, the Nella airstrip, Mena Airport and the alleged covert “drop-site” in the Ouchita National Forest. Davis and his collaborators explore the complex political events and allegations in this exhibition, centering on the land that remains.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork and archival research, the present exhibition retraces the choreography of this network. Many of the works exhibited are made from materials extracted from sites where the hidden events took place — earth hauled from runways, water drawn from rivers, spare parts mined from the Mena Intermountain Regional Airport aviation junkyard.



The exhibition is made up of sculptures alongside texts, documents, films and performances. It will be on display through Sunday, Oct. 7.

Collaborators and contributors include filmmaker Eryka Dellenbach, NCAA athlete Austen Dalquist, builder Chris Lee, glass artist Josh Stipe, local activist Mark Swaney and the University of Arkansas Library’s Special Collections.

Events Connected to the exhibition

  • Lecture by Matty Davis: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at Hillside Auditorium. Davis will share his ideas surrounding the exhibition and provide an overview of his artistic practice.
  • Visual Art Performance by Matty Davis: 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Chi Omega Theatre. This is a live choreography performance, an extension of the exhibition.
  • Opening Reception: 5-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery.

All events are free and open to the public.

During the exhibition University of Arkansas Library’s Special Collections invites the public to make an appointment to view diverse documents related to this history of the exhibition.

A publication regarding the project and its process will be available Oct. 31. It is created in collaboration with book designers Ayham Ghraowi and Matt Wolff.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.