Black Belt Artist Project Exhibition
December 4th, 2020- January 29th, 2021
Over the past century, the South’s long history of folk art has been explored by a wide variety of writers, researchers and artists. Now, in an exhibition and new book, a mostly younger generation has rediscovered the Black Belt’s rich traditions in the visual arts. UA photography students in the project spent quality time with each of the artists, listening, photographing, and learning about rural Alabama’s legacy. The Black Belt Artist Project is a collaborative project of UA’s photography students and faculty in partnership with Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center and Canon Solutions America.
Working with a variety of Canon cameras, Associate Professor Christopher Jordan’s students spent two semesters with these culturally unique artists in several counties of the Black Belt documenting their lives and works through photography and oral history video interviews. Then students spent two semesters designing and producing a book that features the photographs, biographies and excerpts from the interviews. “As an educator, it has been a thrill to work with students to document and celebrate these wonderful artists,” Professor Jordan said. “The artists so generously opened their homes and studios to us, providing extraordinarily rich and valuable learning experiences.”
The Black Belt artists included in the project are Betty Anderson, Betty Bain, Mary Lee Bendolph, Deborah Carter, Mike Handley, Estelle Johnson Jackson, Stephen R. James, Betty Gaines Kennedy, Jeanie Lambert, Jessie LaVon, Charlie Lucas, Andrew and Etta McCall, Miller’s Pottery (Eric Miller & Allen Ham), Doris Pettway Mosely, Mary Ann Pettway, Virginia and Danny Pettway, Mary M. Pettway, Minnie and Tinnie Pettway, Mike Prime, Laura Spencer, and Sam Williams.
307 Garland Hall | 700 Capstone Drive | Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0270 | 205-348-5967 | Fax 205-348-0287 | art.ua.edu
Students whose work and excerpts of interviews appear in the book are Savannah Biggert (BA 2019, psychology, minor in studio art), Kasandra Boor (BA 2019, psychology, minor in studio art), Aleiah
Briggs (BA 2020, studio art major, minor in art history), Sarah Cheshire (MFA student, creative writing), Arielle Gray (BA 2019, studio art, minor in art history), Jasmine James (BA 2020, double major in studio art and history), Kayla T. Lawson (BFA major studio art), Sam MacDonald (BFA major, photo and graphic design), Maddy O’Connor (BA 2020, studio art major, minor in advertising), Amber Quinn (MFA student, photography), Holly Ray (BA 2019, studio art, minor in advertising), Kassidy Stewart (BA 2020, studio art major, minor in entrepreneurship), Candace VonHoffman (BFA 2019, painting and photography), and retired social work professor Gordon MacNeil.
Students who helped design the book are Aleiah Briggs, Natalie Clark (junior double major in studio art and advertising), Rebecca DeLong (BA 2020, double major in marketing and studio art), Alex Gaunt (BFA major, digital media), Angel Greene (BFA 2020, major, digital media and painting), Brittany Pitts (junior double major in studio art and advertising), Anna Sella (BFA 2020, major in digital media and drawing), and Holly Welch (BFA 2019, digital media).
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Flickr with the hashtag #blackbeltartistsproject. And don’t miss another Black Belt Artist-related exhibition: Charlie Lucas: Talking to the Ancestors, up now through February 26, 2021, at the Paul R. Jones Museum in downtown Tuscaloosa.
Sara Garden Armstrong: Threads and Layers, August 7 – September 25, 2020
Sara Garden Armstrong: Threads and Layers surveys works by Alabama native and UA alumna, Sara Garden Armstrong, representing an artistic practice in Alabama and New York spanning six decades. The exhibition displays works varying in media from handmade artist books to painting to sculpture and installation, which interpret life cycles and metamorphosis using movement, color, sound, texture and light. This exhibition includes work from 1978 to 2020, with works never exhibited before and pieces that have never been presented together.
The exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Barrett, who recently curated For the Record: The Art of Al Sella at the UA Gallery and It’s Like That: Selections from the Collection of Rebecca and Jack Drake at the Paul R. Jones Museum. Barrett represented Armstrong’s artist books at the art gallery AGNES in the 1990s, including the limited-edition mini environment she created for Airplayers, a work in the collections of the Pompidou Centre, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is featured in this exhibition.
Armstrong has exhibited nationally and internationally since the 1970s. She has had solo exhibitions at John Gibson Gallery, Dieu Donné Gallery, Souyun Yi Gallery and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, N.Y.; and the Birmingham Museum of Art, Maralyn Wilson Gallery, Space One Eleven, and the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, AL. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including SculptureCenter and A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY; Susan Hensel Gallery, Minneapolis, MN; U.S. Embassy, Czech Republic, Prague; Stiftung für Konkrete Kunst, Reutlingen, Germany; Bellevue Art Museum, WA; Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Virginia Beach, VA.
Her artist books, installations and other artworks are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Time, Inc., New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Bibliothèque Nationale and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL; and others. Her atrium sculptures are included in such corporate collections as United Therapeutic Corporation, Silver Spring, MD. Armstrong now lives and works in Birmingham, where she founded the cooperative art gallery, Ground Floor Contemporary. Her website is http://saragardenarmstrong.com/.
The exhibition precedes a monograph of Armstrong’s work that will be published in the fall of 2020.
CONVERGENCE: UA STUDIO ART FACULTY
The University of Alabama Gallery
June 1- July 23, 2020, and online:
Flickr.com | Facebook.com
The summer semester is always a slower time around Tuscaloosa. Many faculty are working on studio and art history research projects. In that respect, despite COVID-19, this summer is no different and the director Daniel White has organized a thoughtful and surprising summer show of recent faculty work for The University of Alabama Gallery. While Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama practice safe distancing, the gallery’s exhibition will be open by appointment only. And, online exhibitions have been posted at our Flickr site and on Facebook, as well as examples of the faculty’s artworks below.
Check out this virtual tour of the exhibition, thanks to Daniel White, UA Gallery director:
William Dooley’s studio research in painting and drawing explores the effects of compression and concentration, of pigment, line, form and other elements, including the visual assertiveness wielded by a small artwork, a force often many times larger than its object reality. His work has been included in numerous regional and national juried exhibitions. He is director of the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art and associate professor of art in drawing and art museum practices.
Allison Grant‘s artworks have been widely exhibited at venues including the DePaul Art Museum, Azimuth Projects, Catherine Edelman Gallery and the Weston Art Gallery. She was the 2019 recipient of the Developed Work Fellowship from the Midwest Center for Photography and shortlisted for the 2019 FotoFilmic Mesh Prize. Her works are held in public collections at DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), Columbia College Chicago, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and 4-Culture (Seattle, Wash.). She is assistant professor of art in photography.
Jason Guynes works extensively in oil on canvas and in drawing media and exhibits his work nationally in competitions, galleries and museums. He also has completed major mural commissions in Mesa, Ariz., Joplin, Mo., Philadelphia, Pa., Livingston, Ala. and Mobile, Ala. Guynes has had academic appointments at universities in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Alabama. He was professor and chair of the Department of Visual Arts at the University of South Alabama and department chair at the University of West Alabama before coming to UA. Guynes is professor of art in painting and chair of the UA department of art and art history.
While Chris Jordan’s photography has engaged many styles, ranging from classical large-format, black-and-white images to experimental digital forms, a common denominator is a sense of place and how photography can be used for reflection, memory, and contemplation. His photographs have appeared in Diffusion: Unconventional Photography, Lenscratch, the national traveling photography exhibition, Spinning Yarns, and numerous exhibitions in the United States, Canada and Mexico. A book of his photography, Nowhere in Place: Where Photography and Meditation Meet, is scheduled for publication in 2021. Jordan is associate professor of art in photography and digital media.
Giang Pham’s art practice stems from her traumatic childhood in Vietnam and the painful adaptation in her adopted America. Her works highlight the intangible effects of social and political structures on the body. She works with the materials of sculpture, fiber, video, drawing, collage, and verbal language through larger installations and performances. Pham’s research has been exhibited nationally and internationally in Canada, Pakistan, Korea and across the United States. She was a fellow for the I-Park Artist Enclave in East Haddam, Conn.; the Hambidge Artist Residency in Rabun Gap, Ga.; and the ACRE residency program in Steuben, Wis. Pham is assistant professor of art in studio foundations.
Amy Smoot‘s ceramic artwork has been included in group exhibitions including ArtFields 2019, Lake City, S.C.; Small Favors, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, Penn.; Currents 2018: An Honest Attempt, Gary R. Libby Gallery, Gainesville, Fla.; and After School Special, an NCECA Pop-Up Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Penn. Smoot has been a demonstrating artist at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, has participated in workshops at Penland School of Crafts and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Smoot gives frequent workshops, classes and demonstrations, including a 19th-century ceramics presentation at historic Lyon Hall in Demopolis, Ala. Smoot is a full-time instructor in ceramics.
Craig Wedderspoon‘s work focuses on the examination of the intrigue of process and the potential of material to communicate thought in the expression of visual philosophy. Originally trained as a glass and crystal carver, Wedderspoon now specializes in metal and wood fabrication and works in a variety of scales for both indoor and outdoor, permanent and temporary installations and exhibitions. He has shown his work nationally and internationally, including Dorsch Gallery, Miami, FL; Kim Foster Gallery, New York, NY; Sanat Yapin Gallery, Ankara, Turkey; Suzhou Institute Gallery, Suzahou, People’s Republic of China; Southern Illinois University Museum, Carbondale, Ill.; and University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind. Wedderspoon is professor of art in sculpture.
Charlotte Wegrzynowski‘s drawings and book arts work have won awards at the SECAC Juried Exhibition and the West Alabama Juried Show, and have been juried into exhibitions including the Meridian Museum of Art and the Alabama Women’s Art Caucus. She has exhibited across the South, including a solo exhibition at The Arts Council Gallery in Tuscaloosa. She teaches in a variety of capacities: drawing, design and watercolor at UA, as a guest lecturer in art appreciation and anthropology, and as a volunteer. Wegrzynowski is a full-time instructor in art foundations.
Tom Wegrzynowski has been regularly exhibiting work for two decades, including Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan, Ala.; Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans; and Delaplaine Visual Arts Center in Frederick, Md.; Contemporary Arts Center, Las Vegas; and Transmission Gallery in Oakland, Calif.; and Meridian Museum of Art in Mississippi. His awards include the Trudy Williamson Award for Excellence in Two Dimensional Work from the St. Tammany Art Association in Covington, La. and the Howard & Michael Goodson and Richard Zoellner Purchase Award from The Arts Council of Tuscaloosa. He is a past recipient of an emergency support grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Wegrzynowski is a full-time instructor in both studio art and art history.
Unframed Images – Photography from the Collection of P.H. Polk
January 24-February 28, 2020.
Digitally enlarged and reproduced from his original works, the photographs in this exhibit display the qualities for which Prentice Herman “P.H.” Polk (1898-1984) was known, for example, presenting his subjects in sharp detail with strong lighting without idealizing them. Polk’s subjects ranged from famous African Americans such as George Washington Carver, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King, Jr., to working-class and poor Alabamians. One of Polk’s most influential photos featured First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941 with pilot C.A. Anderson, an African American and Tuskegee Institute’s first chief flight instructor, which helped promote the newly established pilot training program that produced the Tuskegee Airmen.
Born and raised in Bessemer, Alabama, P.H. Polk (1898-1984) came to study art at the then-Tuskegee Institute in 1916 and opened his first photography studio there in 1927. The next year, he joined the faculty of Tuskegee’s photography department and taught until 1938, including five years as department head. From 1940, Polk served as the college’s official photographer while continuing to run his own studio.
The P.H. Polk Photography Collection, which contains more than 3,800 photographs, is housed in Tuskegee University’s archives. Tuskegee University archivist Dana Chandler said, “This collection represents some of the finest black and white images ever produced — by arguably the nation’s greatest African American photographer.” The works have been exhibited at leading institutions around the country, including the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Natural History and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, N.Y.
The exhibition was made possible through a partnership with Tuskegee University, Mississippi State University Libraries and the Southern Literary Trail.
Jerry Siegel- Stompin’ Grounds. November 1st through January 17th 2020
Born in Selma, AL, Jerry Siegel is a photographer living in Atlanta, GA, and working throughout the Southeast. Siegel focuses his work on traditions of portrait and documentary photography.
His first monograph, Facing South, Portraits of Southern Artists, was published by the University of Alabama Press, and features portraits of 100 Southern artists.
His work is in many public, private and corporate collections including the High Museum of Art, GA Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, MOCA GA, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The Do Good Fund, The Telfair Museum, Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, GA, The Morris Museum in Augusta, GA, and numerous other museums.
For the Record: The Art of Al Sella, August 2-September 27, 2019
Noted Guatemalan artist and arts educator Carlos Mérida wrote, “Sella has fertile imagination, variety, and is a colorist of first quality,” in Mérida’s introduction to the catalog for Sella’s solo exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City in 1946.
“The rumors are indeed true,” beamed UA Gallery director Daniel White. “We have been working hard behind the scenes for many months for this show, and we are proud to announce that we will have a solo survey of Al Sella’s work at the UA Gallery in August! Paul Barrett, the guest curator for this exhibition, has brought together a great group of collectors and institutions as we celebrate the work of Professor Sella as it stands on its own.”
“The exhibition includes paintings, assemblages and prints from 1960 through the 2000s,” notes Barrett. “After experiencing so much of Al Sella’s work over the course of organizing this show, it’s no surprise Alabama State Council on the Arts Executive Director Elliot Knight included Sella in his recent book, Alabama Creates: 200 Years of Art and Artists, published by University of Alabama Press.”
Alvin C. Sella, who died in 2013, taught at The University of Alabama for 50 years, first as a tenured professor of art, hired in 1960, and later after his retirement in 1996, as professor emeritus, until 2010. Born in West Hoboken, New Jersey, Sella studied art at the Yale School of Fine Arts, Art Students League of New York, Columbia University School of Arts, Syracuse University College of Fine Arts, University of New Mexico department of art and, independently, in Mexico.
Sella spent his early career studying and painting in Mexico, before accepting a position as artist-in-residence at Sullins College in Bristol, Va., where he later served as head of the department of art before coming to Tuscaloosa.
Sella had numerous solo exhibitions throughout his career. His work appeared in the Contemporary Art Gallery in New York City; Collectors of American Art in New York City; the Carroll Knight Gallery in St. Louis, Mo.; and over 20 other galleries. His work also appeared in over 200 group shows. Sella’s paintings are held in numerous private collections as well as the corporate collections of Hinton Properties and Kovach Industries International. Sella was affiliated with the Frank Fedele Gallery in New York City.
He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Artist Award from Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham. In 1999, The University of Alabama Society for the Fine Arts awarded Sella its Distinguished Arts Career Award. In 2009, the Alabama State Council on the Arts awarded him the Governor’s Arts Award.
Image credit (above left and featured): Alvin C. Sella in his studio, probably taken in 1965 during a photo shoot for the Crimson White for a story about his painting “The X Game” at the Southeastern Annual Exhibition in Atlanta (see Crimson White, Oct. 28, 1965). Courtesy of the Sella Estate.