Emily Bibb, the curator of The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama, gave the keynote address to a packed house at the Flint (Michigan) Institute of Art’s 16th Annual Community Gala on January 28. The gala was a celebration of the opening of the exhibition Bibb curated for the FIA, Ways of Seeing: The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at the University of Alabama, a celebration of Black History Month, and a fundraiser to add works by Black artists to their permanent collection. FIA recently opened a new gallery dedicated to art by African American artists, which includes a quilt by Tuscaloosa artist Yvonne Wells. Ways of Seeing is on display in the FIA’s Henry and Hodge galleries where Bibb also held a question-and-answer session for visitors the following afternoon. The show will be up through April 23, 2023.
A portion of Bibb’s talk focused on Paul R. Jones’ initial impetus to collect art and how it influenced his mission for the collection:
“Paul saw that not many people were collecting art by Black artists. He didn’t see art by Black artists in the museum exhibitions and galleries he visited. I like to remind students that what we know about art history is very much related to what artwork survives into the present. What we deem important is in many cases simply what was preserved by people long gone. Paul both understood that and had a more immediate concern. If Black artists couldn’t sell their artwork, they likely wouldn’t keep working as artists. Their contributions as documentarians and interpreters of the community around them could be lost while they were still alive. Paul saw value in Black artists representing the Black community. So, he narrowed his focus, and for the rest of his life, he championed Black artists, especially those working within the Black art community in Atlanta, where Paul made his home.”
During her tenure at UA, Emily Bibb has curated, co-curated or overseen a wide variety of exhibitions for the Jones Collection and the Paul R. Jones Museum, as well as traveling shows, including the Houston Museum of African American Culture and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA). Her curated exhibitions include It Don’t Come Easy, in conjunction with the UA School of Music and the Alabama Blues Project; “My Spot in the Sunlight:” A For Freedoms Exhibition; and BAM – ‘Black Panther’ and the Black Arts Movement in the Paul R. Jones Collection. Bibb holds an MA in museum studies from New York University, and an MLIS from The University of Alabama.
For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in studio art and art history, visit our Degree Programs page.