McCollough Fine Arts Initiative Award Winners Announced

(Tuscaloosa, AL)—Three UA art students won prizes totaling $1,750 for their artwork in The Susan Nomberg McCollough Fine Arts Initiative – A University of Alabama Biennial Event. The awards were presented Friday, October 6, 2023, during the reception and alumni keynote address in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in Tuscaloosa.

Best of Show ($1,000) went to graduate student Nathan Childers (MFA 2024) for his painting, “Terms and Conditions.” The Award of Distinction ($500) went to second-year graduate student Stephen Blades, for his sculpture, “Arc #1.” The Award of Merit ($250) went to second-year graduate student Jigisha Kiran, for her untitled digital photograph. The student works were judged by John Fields, the Lydia Cheney and Jim Sokol endowed director and chief curator for the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The exhibition, which includes UA art alumni work as well as student work, will be open through Friday, December 1, in The University of Alabama Gallery and The Arts Council Gallery, both in the Cultural Arts Center.

For this year’s event, exhibition curator and gallery director Daniel White invited alumni exhibitors and juried in student applicants from current majors in studio art (undergraduate and graduate). Alumni artists active in the field now who earned art degrees from the 1950s to recent years displayed their work alongside these current undergraduate and graduate studio majors. In addition, a newly acquired work by renowned artist William Christenberry (1936-2016), who earned his BFA in studio art in 1958, his master’s degree in painting in 1959, and taught painting as an instructor at UA, was a special feature of the exhibition, a gift from donors Maggie and Will Brooke.

To see all the works in the exhibition online, go here.

Susan Nomberg McCollough, the benefactor of the exhibition and event, said that her purpose in establishing the biennial McCollough Initiative is to offer current students an opportunity to show their work before they leave school, as well as to meet alumni who are practicing artists. She hopes future iterations of the exhibition and event will feature academic lectures and workshops conducted by UA faculty and internationally known art experts and instructors.

McCollough has a deep history with the University; it is where her journey in the art world began. She studied with the late UA art professors Alvin Sella and Frank Engel and received her bachelor’s degree in theatre and art in 1966. In addition, while a student, she was elected Miss University of Alabama. McCollough went on to study with Max Hellman at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Gary Sussman at the Art Students League of New York, and Sonia De Franceschi of the Accademia D’Arte in Florence, Italy. In 2017, McCollough was named Artist of the Year by the award-winning art magazine, ArtTour International.  She recently completed a master workshop under Michael Mentler and his Society of Figurative Arts.

The University of Alabama Gallery is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. Admission to the gallery is free. The gallery is in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center at 620 Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa. It is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and First Fridays 12 noon-7 p.m. Have questions or need assistance? Call (205) 345-3038. 

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