“As the Bicentennial approaches it has been obvious that our state’s artists have, throughout the years, been some of our best and most prolific story tellers. Clearly the arts and artists of Alabama will take a high profile position in celebrations statewide.” — Alabama State Council on the Arts Annual Report 2018
UA art and art history students, faculty, staff and alumni have been intensely involved in our state’s 200th anniversary celebrations over the last two years. Here are some of the creative ways our UA art community is participating in commemorating Alabama’s history and setting a path for its future:
ALABAMA HISTORY IN HIGH RELIEF
Professor Craig Wedderspoon is designing part of Montgomery’s Bicentennial park and sculpture project planned for the west side of the Capitol building to be unveiled in December of 2019, with help from Assistant Professor Jonathan Cumberland. Tuscaloosa artist Caleb O’Connor is creating sixteen bronze relief panels with Wedderspoon, who is designing and installing the panels’ bases and supervising the casting process. Cumberland recently joined the team to work on graphics for the project. Wedderspoon is also working with O’Connor on a Tuscaloosa Bicentennial sculpture to be installed at Manderson Landing on the Black Warrior River.
Fifteen current and past faculty and alumni of the department are included in a special Bicentennial publication honoring notable Alabama artists. Alabama Creates: 200 Years of Art and Artists, published by the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) and the University of Alabama Press, includes current Professor Craig Wedderspoon; distinguished art alumni William Christenberry, Frank Fleming, Darius Hill, Dale Kennington, James Emmette Neel, Scott Stephens; past faculty Gay Burke, Chip Cooper, Frank Engle, Al Sella, Richard Zoellner; and former UA art students John Kelly Fitzpatrick, Spider Martin, Carlos Alpha “Shiney” Moon and Nall Hollis. The coffee-table book will be coming out in July of 2019. Dr. Elliot Knight, ASCA’s new director, and a UA alumnus, was the chief editor and project director for Alabama Creates.
Alumnus April Terra Livingston recently completed three sculptures for the Mobile Medical Museum. Motherwork, which celebrates midwifery, is installed in the Mobile Medical Museum’s Robert Thrower Medicinal Garden, along with Livingston’s Portrait of Bessie McGhee, a Poarch Creek midwife and herbalist. The Portrait of Dr. James A. Franklin, Sr., one of Mobile’s earliest African American physicians, is now on view in the Mary Elizabeth and Charles Bernard Rodning Gallery as part of the museum’s special exhibit Dreaming at Dawn: African Americans and Health Care, 1865-1945). Livingston’s sculptures were made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts and have been designated a Bicentennial project by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. Read more about Livingston’s new sculptures here: https://art.ua.edu/loupe/alumna-casts-sculptures-for-bicentennial-project/
Associate Professor Emeritus Robert O. Mellown was interviewed for Alabama Public Television’s Discovering Alabama special on our state capitals for the Bicentennial. His area of expertise is Tuscaloosa and University of Alabama historical architecture. The episode aired in October 2018.
COMMUNITY BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS
Solo exhibitions by instructor and alumnus Tom Wegrzynowski, instructor Charlotte Wegrzynowski and alumna Kerry Kennedy at the Kentuck Gallery and the Teer Gallery at the Kentuck Arts Center in Northport were the inaugural exhibitions for Kentuck’s “Year of Alabama Artists,” designated an official Bicentennial event.
One of eight outdoor sculptures at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Craig Wedderspoon’s welded aluminum sculpture, Oval, is installed in the new John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden at the museum. Oval is part of Art in the Garden: The Inaugural Sculpture Garden Installation that celebrates Alabama’s Bicentennial and demonstrates the depth of creativity found in the state. The sculptures will be on display through spring 2020.
COINCIDING WITH ALABAMA’S BICENTENNIAL
CASTING ALABAMA’S LITERARY HISTORY
Cast bronze sculptures by students of Professor Craig Wedderspoon were unveiled in downtown Monroeville, Ala., in April, as part of the Literary Capital Sculpture Trail. Monroeville, the birthplace of author Harper Lee, and the home of the Alabama Writers Symposium for the past two decades, has been designated the Literary Capital of Alabama. The sculpture trail, made up of 14 cast bronze works, celebrates ten writers who have put Monroeville on the literary map, including Harper Lee, Truman Capote, journalist Cynthia Tucker, and novelist Mark Childress. Although not an official Bicentennial event, the sculpture trail and its unveiling was planned to coincide with the 200th anniversary celebrations.
The artists were studio art major Hunter Abdo, senior anthropology major Alysa Boyd, sophomore studio art major Zane Boyd, senior BFA major in sculpture and anthropology major Amber Daum, graduate student in creative writing and geography Josh Dugat, Jenn Gault (BFA 2018), special student Jim Harrison III, senior art history major and studio art minor Morgan Harrison, Pat Hoban (MFA 2019), senior studio art major Jonathan Lanier, senior studio art major Hannah Lincoln, BFA major in sculpture Ringo Lisko and senior studio art major Alyson Smith. For a slideshow of all the sculptures, click on this page: http://monroevillemainstreet.com/Literary-Capital-Bronze-Sculpture-Trail
For more information about the UA Department of Art and Art History and its programs, visit our website: https://art.ua.edu/academics/or contact the department at (205) 348-5967.