Sara Garden Armstrong at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center Galleries

Sara Garden Armstrong, Marking Landscape 3.1, detail

The University of Alabama Department of Art and Art History proudly presents Sara Garden Armstrong: Threads and Layers, August 7 – September 25, 2020, in The University of Alabama Gallery and The Arts Council Gallery of the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in Tuscaloosa. The public is invited to a reception for the artist Friday, September 4 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. in the Cultural Arts Center.

While Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama practice safe distancing, the gallery’s exhibition will be open Monday through Friday, 1-3 pm for walk-in visits and by appointment. Armstrong’s work is also presented in an online exhibition on and on and on this page below.

Sara Garden Armstrong: Threads and Layers surveys works by Alabama native and UA alumna, Sara Garden Armstrong, representing an artistic practice in Alabama and New York spanning six decades. The exhibition displays works varying in media from handmade artist books to painting to sculpture and installation, which interpret life cycles and metamorphosis using movement, color, sound, texture and light.

The artist said about this exhibition: “Chance and change drive my artwork as I explore and push the possibilities of materials. In the finished work you see movement, repetition, transparency, layering, and mapping with organic shapes and forms, often with a focus on flow and transformation.”

collage of images of Sara Garden Armstrong
Artist and UA alumna Sara Garden Armstrong

Sara Garden Armstrong: Threads and Layers brings together two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, as well as mechanical, light- and sound-based installations from the 1970s to the 2000s, and recent works covering Armstrong’s artistic production up to the present day, which have never been presented together.

The exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Barrett, who recently curated For the Record: The Art of Al Sella at the UA Gallery and It’s Like That: Selections from the Collection of Rebecca and Jack Drake at the Paul R. Jones Museum. Barrett represented Armstrong’s artist books at the art gallery AGNES in the 1990s, including the limited-edition mini environment she created for Airplayers, a work that is in the collections of the Pompidou Centre, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and will be in this exhibition. “When Sara returned to Birmingham after living and working in New York for over 35 years,” Barrett said, “I was excited to experience more of her work. I mistakenly believed I was very familiar with her practice. After seeing distinct bodies of work produced in different cities and different decades, the idea of mixing her styles and processes from multiple series in a non-linear presentation to show relationships between concepts really intrigued me. When I learned the distinct series had never been presented together, I proposed a book project with a corresponding exhibition series opening where she received her MFA, which you can see at the UA Gallery.” The book will be released this fall.

Armstrong has exhibited nationally and internationally since the 1970s. She has had solo exhibitions at John Gibson Gallery, Dieu Donné Gallery, Souyun Yi Gallery and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, N.Y.; and the Birmingham Museum of Art, Maralyn Wilson Gallery, Space One Eleven, and the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Ala. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including SculptureCenter and A.I.R. Gallery, New York, N.Y.; Susan Hensel Gallery, Minneapolis, Minn.; U.S. Embassy, Czech Republic, Prague; Stiftung für Konkrete Kunst, Reutlingen, Germany; Bellevue Art Museum, Wash.; Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Virginia Beach, Va.

Her artist books, installations and other artworks are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Time, Inc., New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Bibliothèque Nationale and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Ala.; and others. Her atrium sculptures are included in such corporate collections as United Therapeutic Corporation, Silver Spring, Md. Armstrong now lives and works in Birmingham, where she founded the cooperative art gallery, Ground Floor Contemporary. Her website is

The University of Alabama Gallery and The Arts Council Gallery are in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, 620 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 35401.

The University of Alabama Gallery is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. To ensure the safety of our visitors and staff, the galleries are open Monday through Friday, 1-3 pm for walk-in visits and by appointment. 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.