MFA Thesis Exhibitions Open at UA Gallery

The University of Alabama department of art and art history is proud to present the Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibitions of Kelsey Meadows and Amber Quinn, April 2 through May 12, 2021, in The University of Alabama Gallery of the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The public is invited to a socially-distanced First Friday reception on May 7 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Visitors must wear face coverings inside the Cultural Arts Center and maintain a minimum distance of six feet from others. The DWCAC is limited to fifty (50) visitors at a time.

Amber Quinn speaking about her work July 2020 in The Arts Council Gallery, DWCAC.

Quinn and Meadows, candidates for the MFA degree, have persisted through a year of unexpected challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last March, as the University and much of the world went into lockdown, Kelsey Meadows exhibited her MA show, a requirement for the degree and a step toward the MFA candidacy, in the Sella-Granata Art Gallery. Unfortunately, because of health precautions, no visitors were able to see her work in person. At the same time, the original venue for Amber Quinn’s MA show was forced to cancel at the last minute. In July, as COVID precautions adjusted, Quinn was able to hold her MA show in The Arts Council Gallery in downtown Tuscaloosa, with limited attendance and masks required. Little did either student realize that, a year later, she would still be studying and making art for the final part of her degree program under these difficult conditions. And yet, they have both persisted and met the challenge.

Kelsey Meadows: The Somewhere in Between

detail of an abstract sculpture
Kelsey Meadows, “Untitled (Creeper),” 2021, stoneware, 22 x 11 x 9.5 inches.

Meadows’ work consists primarily of ceramics in conjunction with other materials. She researches peculiar aspects of nature to expose the abstract structural elements that form our tangible world. Meadows holds a teaching assistantship and presented her MA thesis exhibition, Beneath the Fabric, in March 2020.  A Sykesville, Maryland, native, Meadows earned the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ceramics from Frostburg State University.

Meadows writes in her artist statement, “I hand-build many clay parts to assemble organic structures. Stretching, squatting, retracting, and moseying about, these irregular patterns exist as gestures, compounded physical behaviors that blend what is external with the self. The unglazed forms emphasize a sense of bareness, a raw portrayal of line, volume, texture, and balance that become animated in display. These somatic sculptures converse amongst themselves, generating a language shaped by spatial relationships, motioning the viewer into an empathic engagement. Observing the world informs my making, through which I gain a greater understanding of the complexity that I see, experience, and consider as I navigate the everyday.”

Amber Quinn: Two Ways of Seeing

photo of a woman in motion, blurred
Amber Quinn, “Arielle Gray; A Poet, Lover, Dreamer.” 2020, 12×18 inches, sheer gloss metal.

Like many people of color, Amber Quinn’s family history is not well-documented. In her MFA thesis work, Quinn wanted to focus on documenting stories and experiences of Black Americans that she did have access to, as well as to capture the exclusion and the stigmatization of identity that she and her subjects felt.  She said, “I consider these images to be an extended form of self-expression and to some degree, self-portraits…a visual archive from a variety of perspectives of very specific moments or experiences of a person’s life. However, there are usually multiple points of overlap pertaining to their truth and my truth.”

Quinn said that she intentionally distorts her imagery through techniques such as blurring and printing the photographs on sheer gloss metal, which prevents viewers from seeing the subjects of her portraits fully or in the usual way. “These portraits do not allow an easy read,” she writes in her artist statement, “The viewer must peer beyond the black gloss and underlying metal surface to a deeper realization that although the representation and treatment of Black people has progressed, generational traumas and systematic racism still prevail in America and still negatively impact people of color.”

A native of Jacksonville, Ala., Amber Quinn holds a teaching assistantship, assisting in ART 388 (Studio Photography). She was the recipient of a Small Grant by the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa County for her Master of Arts exhibition, and a National Alumni Association License Tag Graduate Fellowship. Her MA show, Fragmented and Forgotten, will be on exhibit April 16-May 28, 2021, at Space One Eleven in Birmingham, Ala. Quinn has also exhibited her work in the 2nd Annual Juried Show in Recognition of Black History Month and the Annual Graduate Student Show, where she presented a gallery talk on her work. She received the BA in art from the University of Montevallo.

The University of Alabama Gallery is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. The gallery, located at 620 Greensboro Avenue, in Tuscaloosa, is open Monday through Friday, 9 am-4 pm and First Fridays 12 noon-8 pm. To ensure the safety of our visitors and staff, visitors must wear face coverings inside the gallery and maintain a minimum distance of six feet from others. Have questions or need assistance? Call (205) 345-3038. 

For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in studio art and art history, visit our Degree Programs page.