Sella-Granata Hosts Graduate Pop-Up Art Exhibition

mixed media painting by Zoe Fitch
Zoe Fitch, Domestic Female on View, 2020, mixed media on canvas, 7 feet x 9 feet x 1/8 inch.

The UA Department of Art and Art History is proud to present a Graduate Pop-Up Exhibition in the Sella-Granata Art Gallery. From February 1 through 19 UA studio art graduate students will be featured in an exhibition in the Sella-Granata Art Gallery for the Tuscaloosa and UA community. In an early spring showing, new and recent artworks by Ryan Akers, Sarah Dittmann, Zoe Fitch, Will Henry, Parker Hunt, Molly Lay, Juan Lopez-Bautista, Upneet Mair, Kelsey Meadows, Kole Nichols, Shivam Pawar, Amber Quinn, René Thompson, and Sandra Vega will be in the gallery, located in 109 Woods Hall in the heart of the historic UA campus.

View the exhibition in

The Sella-Granata Art Gallery is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. The gallery is located at 109 Woods Hall, 7th Avenue, on UA campus in Tuscaloosa and admission is free. Gallery hours for the 2021 spring semester are Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The gallery is open to the public, limited to ten (10) visitors at a time. Visitors must wear face coverings inside the gallery and maintain a minimum distance of six feet from others. 

About the Artists

Ryan Akers, a first-year graduate student in painting, writes in his artist statement: “My work examines the violent means through which power structures dominate people with the aim of upsetting, challenging, and subverting those power structures. Through my work and process, I attempt to explore the violent acts of others in addition to the violence within me. Whether it is through caricature, fetishization, depictions of instruments of torture, or a reflection my own violence, I hope to subvert traditions and institutions that uphold the white supremacist status quo in order to challenge systemic racism. I am helping us unspool the personal beliefs and political identities that allow us to justify our discrimination. I am interested in power—not only archetypal political and military might but also more insidious forms of power that are unknowingly exerted over and through us.”

Sarah Dittmann is a third-year graduate student in printmaking. She holds a BFA in printmaking from the University of South Alabama and has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions across the country.

Zoe Fitch holds a BFA in painting from the University of Mississippi. Fitch investigates visual ideas related to Southern femininity and the tension between grotesqueness and beauty through experiments with large-scale figurative pieces in mixed media including acrylic paint, paper, pattern, and text.

Will Henry is a first-year graduate student in printmaking.

Parker Hunt is a first-year graduate student in ceramics. Hunt writes, “I create ceramic objects that allude to abnormal growths under the skin to reference pain and translate frustration through the physicality of process.”

“By using natural and synthetic found objects collected from a series of walks and daily explorations,” Molly Lay tells the viewer of her current work, “I assign value to the forgotten. Rusty metal, dried goldenrod, and torn fabric: all to signify a moment spent fully present. A moment free from dwelling on the past, or planning for the future. A moment fully mine. My work is the pursuit of this fullness.” Lay received a BA in studio art from Samford University and studied a semester at the Burren College of Art in Ireland.

Juan Lopez-Bautista is a professor of biology, working toward the MFA in painting. He writes that he is “exploring the immigrant’s remnants in the landscape as a source for visual imagery. I use pictures from journalists, news websites, and groups pro and against illegal immigrants from the USA/Mexico border. These images show the remains from a journey, the residues of long and sometimes deadly crossings.” Items such as “clothing that someone wore, slashed water jugs, forgotten toys and dolls, and bags,” Lopez-Bautista says, “challenge for me to create abstractions with empathy and, while I am working in the studio, I often think about their owners and the lives left behind to pursue their dreams.”

Upneet Kaur Mair has depicted one of the numerous – and inevitable – traffic accidents she witnessed growing up in India, pileups which bring with them almost predictable human responses. In her large pen drawing, Mair recreates the confusion, violence, and amusing moments that reoccur across the massive cross-section of humanity on the crowded busy street, and asks herself, “Why do people lack empathy? Why are people so selfish? What makes them act this way?” Mair holds a BFA in painting from Central India School of Fine Arts, Nagpur, India. Mair has exhibited her work in China, India and the United States. She will present her MA thesis show in the spring of 2021.

Kelsey Meadows is a graduate teaching assistant in ceramics. She writes, “Inspired by nature and science, my hands respond to what my eyes can and cannot see. I fixate on the repetition of individual clay forms to construct skeletal structures that examine balance, density, and multiplicity. The surfaces highlight interior and exterior to emphasize the foundationally intrinsic complexity in everything around us and within.”

Kole Nichols is a first-year graduate student in printmaking. Kole Nichols writes that in his artwork, he explores “the liminal space between feelings of strength and fragility. I often seek to create works that reflect themes of adoption, self-identity, memory, and fear. Employing the use of transparent mediums such as tar gel, rice paper, emulsions, and resins, my work aims to bridge traditional forms of printmaking, drawing, and collage.” Since the isolation brought on by living in the coronavirus pandemic, Nichols writes that his work “has not undergone radical transformation…but it has experienced a shift nonetheless.” His yearning for “peace amidst abundantly turbulent times, longing for rest and space to reflect” has led, he says, “to a momentary absence of figurative imagery and inspired the creation of meditative works that seek contemplation rather than interpretation.” Nichols holds a BFA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

From Shivam Pawar’s childhood experiences in India of seeing working class people who worked his house and other houses in his neighborhood, Pawar writes that he is developing a body of artwork that “recognizes their work in diverse ways and addresses the contribution that they have been making through generations…Seeing their conditions has made me question my own privilege – I feel that it is a social responsibility and a method for me to narrate them through my work by observing what was happening around me. I sense that there is a lack of empathy and care for these people in our society that results only to a state of mass helplessness.” Pawar holds a BFA in painting from Central India School of Fine Arts, Nagpur, India. Pawar has exhibited his work in exhibitions around the world, from India to Norway and the United States.

Amber Quinn’s work “emphasizes the invisibility and the social unawareness the general population has about the continued internal struggles of the modern-day Black American.” Quinn writes, “This work is a visual archive from a variety of perspectives of very specific moments or experiences of a person’s life.” Because she knows people, like viewers, perceive only a superficial or preconceived idea of each other in everyday life, in her portrait photos, Quinn invites the viewer to “observe an unfolding narrative” of her subject. However, she knows that “the viewer will continue to bring in their own history, biases, and prejudices to interpret the imagery.” Quinn is a master of fine arts candidate in photography. She holds a BA in art from the University of Montevallo and was the recipient of a grant from The Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa County for her master of arts thesis exhibition in 2020.

René Thompson is a second-year grad student in painting. Her current work in acrylic painting and mixed media addresses the social stigma of mental illness through her representation of “personal neuro-imagery, neuropsychology, psychopathology, and the relationship between personal memory, experience, and abstract images,” as well as “physical symptoms associated with mental illness, mostly tics, impulses, and rituals.” Thompson holds an MA in general studies and a BA in art with a minor in art history from Auburn University Montgomery, where she also serves as an adjunct instructor.

As the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, an “anchor baby”, and a first-generation college student,  Sandra Vega feels that she has been expected to be the embodiment of strength. And yet, she writes that she is drawn to the idea of vulnerability and to depict it in her artwork. “My work displays a physical and metaphorical representation of vulnerability illustrated through various insects and wounded bodies. The crushed insects and wounded characters are projections of myself; they are extended self-portraits of my personal struggle with having to face and accept my own vulnerability and search for identity…My imagery displays the balance between resilience and vulnerability as the unidentified characters show no reaction through their body language despite their wounds and what may be occurring around them.”  Vega holds a BFA from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa. Vega assisted in the NEA-funded program Pots-n-Prints mobile studio (featured in the Washington Post), which traveled to rural areas in southwest and west Texas, teaching students silkscreen printing, etching, and ceramics. She will present her MA thesis exhibition in the spring of 2021.

Information about visitor parking is available on the UA parking services website. Parking is free on campus in a legal space after business hours. For more information, contact the gallery at (205) 348-1893. Have questions or need assistance? Call (205) 348-1893. 

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