Central Elementary Students to Exhibit at Paul R. Jones Museum

Images from the Paul R. Jones Museum’s reception for the PRJCAA K-12 event in 2020.

The Paul R. Jones Museum presents Together for Creativity: A Collaboration with Central Elementary School, an exhibition of artworks from the Paul R. Jones Collection and artworks by Tuscaloosa’s Central Elementary fifth-grade students. The exhibition runs January 12-February 25, 2022 and there will be a reception for the artists on Friday, February 4 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., during downtown Tuscaloosa’s First Friday festivities.

UPDATE: Check out a video of the exhibition!

Last fall, museum director Daniel White gave the fifth graders a tour of the Paul R. Jones Museum during the recent exhibition Forward Movement: Selections from the Collection of Johnny and Allison Howze. The Howzes, inspired by Paul R. Jones, have been collecting works primarily by African American artists since 1997.

Dr. Wendy Castenell, who teaches African American art history at UA and heads the committee that organized Together for Creativity, talked to the students after their museum tour to find out what they saw and how they experienced the art. She asked the mostly Black fifth graders what all the works in the exhibition seemed to have in common. “After a few enthusiastic comments about how they all had bright colors and used interesting materials,” Castenell said, “someone pointed out that the artists and subjects were all Black.” Castenell used that answer to remind the students that African Americans are artists and they often make art about Black history and culture. “Many of the students, who had never been to an art museum before, didn’t know this!” Castenell said. “I felt like it was a lightbulb moment for some of them. It was for me, as well, because it reminded me of how important the K-12 program is, and how transformative Paul Jones’s mission for his collection was.”

The students also participated in several art activities at UA in sculpture and ceramics and created their own artworks inspired by what they saw at the museum. Working with UA professors Craig Wedderspoon (sculpture) and Wade MacDonald (ceramics), and Central Elementary’s art teacher MollyBrooke Threadgill (who holds a BFA in art with concentrations in sculpture and painting from UA), the students created a variety of works, including ceramic tiles, sculptures, self-portraits and small prints. Together for Creativity will exhibit approximately 50 artworks by the students, with each student selecting their strongest work themselves.

This exhibition and program have been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Paul R. Jones Museum is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. Admission to the museum is free. It is located at 2308 Sixth Street, in downtown Tuscaloosa, one block from the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and First Fridays 12 noon-8 pm. To ensure the safety of our visitors and staff, everyone must wear face coverings inside the museum. Have questions or need assistance? Call (205) 345-3038 or go to their website.

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