Award-Winning Artists Headline Annual Writing and Arts Festival

SILOAM SPRINGS, Arkansas (Sept. 14, 2018) – John Brown University welcomes three award-winning artists for the annual Giving Voice Festival: A Festival of Writing and Arts from Wednesday, Sept. 19 to Friday, Sept. 21. The artists include Harrison Scott Key, an award-winning nonfiction memoirist; Laura Waters Hinson, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker; and Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, a prolific poet and author.

The festival begins on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. with a book and DVD signing by all three artists at the Siloam Springs Library. On Thursday, Sept. 20, at 5:30 p.m. in JBU's Simmons Great Hall, the writers will give presentations, and there will be a showing of Hinson’s film, “Mama Rwanda,” followed by a book signing. Both events are open to the public.

“Every year, Giving Voice brings nationally acclaimed writers to this area for three days so that the community can learn from accomplished artists,” Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, director of Giving Voice and associate professor of creative arts, said. “Having such close contact with these artists is special and a free opportunity the community will enjoy.”

Harrison Scott Key won the Thurber Prize, the highest national honor in humor, for his book “The World’s Largest Man: A Memoir.” His work has appeared in multiple publications like the New York Times, Oxford American and World Magazine. In addition to teaching at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Key's new book “Congratulations, Who Are You Again?” is set to release on Nov. 6.

Laura Waters Hinson won the student Academy Award in 2008 for her documentary film “As We Forgive” which details the story of Rwanda’s reconciliation journey. Hinson created an award-winning production company in Washington, D.C., called Image Bearer Pictures. Her latest film, “Mama Rwanda,” tells the stories of young, women entrepreneurs who helped in establishing Rwanda as one the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s work is found in multiple publications and across a variety of different platforms. Her large selection of poetry and prose bolster a wide range of topics that include holiness, relationships between mothers and daughters and Flannery O’Connor. O’Donnell teaches at Fordham University, and her latest book, “Still Pilgrim,” focuses on the theme of pilgrimage.     

As part of the festival, over 200 high school students, the largest number in Giving Voice history, will participate in workshops, taught by the guest artists and JBU professors, Friday morning and afternoon. 

“I hope the high school students experience beauty,” Dr. Wilson said. “Art has the ability to transform you by putting you in touch with the beautiful, the true and the good. Giving Voice is not a matter of lessons learned but more of a beauty experienced.”

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John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Arkansas’ top-ranked regional university (U.S. News Best Colleges, 2019), JBU enrolls more than 2,100 students from 38 states and 53 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and concurrent education programs. JBU offers 41 majors, with top programs including engineering, nursing, family and human services, biology, graphic design and construction management.


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