Radiating good vibes as he speaks, Neal Harrington, professor of art with a specialty in printmaking, shows his love for teaching and doing what he absolutely loves.
Neal was recently on sabbatical working on five extra works in his series, the “Bootlegger’s Ballad,” which is now on display at Norman Art Gallery. He is also the Gallery Director for Tech, which includes managing the budget, setting up and booking the artists. He is also the founding member of Arkansas Society of Printmakers, in which he and his wife support artists and printmakers around Arkansas.
Talking to Neal is easy, especially when it comes to his passions and where he draws inspiration from. Funnily enough, he gets ideas when he is in a busy state and cannot pursue any of the ideas that come to him.
He has a heart for teaching and helping students realize their capability and intelligence and putting that visually. He enjoys connecting with students over time and continues to keep up with them through social media.
As he describes his career plan, he includes working at Tech as a professor until retirement. Neal considers it perfect that he and his wife are both able to absolutely do what they love within the same area. “It’s like seeing a leprechaun riding a unicorn on a flying saucer; it can be very rare.” Being able to create work while simultaneously being able to teach others how to create work is very rewarding for Neal. He sees creating art as a need, not a want.
Neal is as detailed in his words as he is in his artwork. Each of his pieces has a story to tell, much like the way Neal can effectively tell a story. He says of his history with art that he “never lost interest, in fact, I think I kept my interest because I wasn’t real great at drawing when I was a kid. I was okay, but I knew people that were amazing, and those people I know that were amazing don’t draw anything anymore, maybe because it was too easy. I had to work at it, and it’s just my passion.” For him, to keep going is what drives him to aspire to be a professor for so long.
Out of all the awards Harrington has won for his work, he is honored to receive two Delta awards, in the 57th and 55th exhibition, which is a prestigious award within the state. Recently, he won the Boston Printmakers award where only a few out of thousands that enter receive the award. Despite these high honors within the art scene, Harrington remains humble, “I think any award is worth being proud of. I’ve been fortunate to receive a few awards.”
Although, according to his’s website, it racks up more than a few. It is clear that after all of these awards, Neal is appreciative about every single award received. “I always think it’s funny though that I’m in my forties, and I still enter a show and I might get a ribbon, but it’s the intention of the ribbon.” He also gets the chance to create art for musicians and charities as well. Although, not every piece of his art is solely freelance. Currently, Neal sells his prints with M2 Gallery in Little Rock.
Neal would like to create a book of every piece of the “Bootleggers Ballad.” His goal is to have at least forty or fifty works in the book, for people to just look through. Right now, the series has seventeen pieces, so the final product will take time. However, Neal is positive, “I’m at the age where I don’t get scared.” Yet he encourages students that want to make art but are debating whether or not it is a promising field, that they have to love it and be able to take criticism for what it is.
As a human being and as an artist, Neal and his art are not too different. He is a professor that students would want to have class with. He can tell the truth without being harsh about it and seems to relate well with anyone. As an artist, his work is special because it tells a story. Each of his works are so extremely detailed that you would want to stand for a minute and take it in, rather than stride through it. His work and information can be found at his website, nealkharrington.com