IT WAS likely sent with heart-eye emojis, the text our creative director, Emma, sent me back in January. Attached was an iPhone photo of a simply matted botanical painting she’d spotted while browsing one of the Arkansas Arts Center galleries. Something for that wildflower project we’ve been talking about?
We had indeed been daydreaming about a wildflower feature—a primer of sorts, which we thought would look beautiful illustrated rather than photographed. On a whim, I sent a note over to the Arts Center. Do y’all have more work by Inez Harrington Whitfield in the collection? Just curious! I was hopeful for a couple, maybe even five or six, if we got lucky.
What we got was 376.
Scrolling through the thumbnails in the center’s collection archives, Emma and I were positively giddy. This was the editorial equivalent of discovering a cache of your dad’s mint-condition Hank Aaron baseball cards in the basement. The more we researched—a hunt that led us deep into the Gazette’s annals and even deeper into the microfiche holdings at the state archives—the better the story got (I’ll refer you here for more on that). And it all started because we were curious.
I know. I know. It’s not the first time I’ve waxed poetic on this page about the trove of heart-eye-emoji-worthy Arkansas stories lurking just below the surface (hidden gems and diamonds in the rough and all that), available to any and all who choose to look closer. But as the days get longer and the child in all of us is lured out by lightning bugs and lemonade and ice cream cones the size of our faces, I hope it’s a reminder to slow down and be curious.