Research Overview

Faculty Research in Art and Art History

The faculty of the Department of Art and Art History specialize in research and creative activity in a variety of fields. This page provides brief overviews of our faculty’s creative activity and research interests, with links to their profile pages for more information.

a faculty member seated in front of full bookshelves
Dr. Lucy Curzon, Professor of Art History.

Art History

Dr. Lucy Curzon’s research focuses on gender, national identity, and visual culture, particularly relating to the interwar, wartime and early postwar periods in Great Britain and Western Europe. She also publishes on contemporary queer portraiture and representations of queer kinship. In 2018, she received the Historians of British Artist Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period after 1800 for her book, Mass-Observation and Visual Culture: Depicting Everyday Lives in Britain (Routledge).

Dr. Jennifer Feltman’s a specialist in the art and architecture of medieval Europe whose research focuses on Gothic sculptural programs. She is especially interested in the question of how we can understand the development of complex image programs in architectural sculpture in the absence of primary textual sources. To engage this question, she works across the disciplines of religious studies, the history of the clergy, manuscript studies, and technical studies of construction. Dr. Feltman’s current research uses 3D modeling to examine the layers of paint (polychromy) on the sculptures of the Last Judgment portal of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. She is conducting this work as a member of the Chantier scientifique de Notre Dame, Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). With a seed grant from the Whiting Foundation, Feltman is currently directing the development of a Virtual Reality app for the Oculus Quest, designed for ages 13 and up. Her forthcoming book is Moral Theology and the Cathedral: Sculptural Programs of the Last Judgment in France, c.1200-1240 (Brepols).

Dr. Tanja L. Jones’ research focuses on the fifteenth-century courts of northern Italy, particularly the Gonzaga court in Mantua, innovations in personal commemoration, and objects demonstrating intersections between the courts of Italy, France, and Byzantium. Her current book-length project addresses the emergence of the cast bronze portrait medal in the 1430s and the political, religious, and ideological value the small-scale sculpted form conveyed. Dr. Jones also co-directs the multi-faceted, digital humanities project Global Makers: Women Artists in the Early Modern Courts (www.globalmakers.ua.edu) and is the editor of  Women Artists in the Early Modern Courts of Europe c. 1450-1700 (Amsterdam University Press).

Dr. Mina Kim’s research focuses on Korean art, modern and contemporary Korean art, East Asian visual and material culture, East Asian modern and contemporary art, multimedia and digital art, global modern and contemporary art, transdisciplinarity in art and science/mathematics/physics, cross- or intercommunication between art and science, East Asian/Asian art and religion, cross-communications: art and society in East Asia/global world, and mapping east and west: art, society and politics.

Dr. Rachel Stephens’ research focuses on nineteenth-century American art, specifically antebellum southern art; race, representation and slavery; and Jacksonian-era portraiture. Her book, Selling Andrew Jackson: Ralph E. W. Earl and the Politics of Portraiture (University of South Carolina Press, 2018) explores the critical role of Earl and his dozens of portraits of Jackson within the circle and career of Old Hickory. Her current book project investigates the implications of abolitionism and pro-slavery justification on antebellum visual culture.

Dr. Doris Sung’s research focuses on modern and contemporary art of East Asia, cultural interactions between Asia and Europe, and gender and visual culture. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled “Redefining Female Talent: Chinese Women Artists in the National and Global Art Worlds of the Early Twentieth Century.” The book examines the contribution of three generations of Chinese women artists to the art reform and shifting gender positioning in early-twentieth-century China. It enriches and challenges existing narratives of nationalism, global interactions and gender relations of the era. Dr. Sung co-directs the multi-faceted, digital humanities project Global Makers: Women Artists in the Early Modern Courts (www.globalmakers.ua.edu). Dr. Sung is also a visual artist, and an independent curator. She has curated exhibitions on the works of Chinese-Canadian women artists, new art of the Asian diasporas and experimental calligraphy.

Studio Art

Professor Jonathan Cumberland has an active practice in design and illustration, with clients such as Women’s Wear Daily, Scholastic Magazine, Mississippi Tourism Association and Charleston Magazine. He currently focuses on creating digital posters that employ visual metaphors to address issues surrounding the environment, human rights and cultural events. Recently, his work has been selected for international poster exhibitions, including in China, Poland, Belarus and Mexico. Cumberland has garnered awards and recognition from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Creative Quarterly and the Tuscaloosa American Advertising Federation.

faculty member, seated, has his photo taken by students
Students practice portrait photos on Professor Bill Dooley in his Woods Hall studio.

Professor William Dooley’s studio research in painting and drawing explores the effects of compression and concentration, of pigment, line, form, and other elements, including the visual assertiveness wielded by a small artwork, a force often many times larger than its object reality. As director of the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art and longtime consultant for Rural Studio, an outreach architectural program for Auburn University located in Hale County, Ala., he brings expertise in curatorial, artistic and museum practices to his teaching.

As an artist, educator and curator, Professor Allison Grant brings expertise in the fields of photography, curation and art criticism. She has exhibited at the DePaul Art Museum, Azimuth Projects, Packer Schopf Gallery and the Weston Art Gallery, among others. Her works are held in public collections at DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), Columbia College Chicago, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and 4-Culture (Seattle, Wash.). Her essays have appeared in Minding Nature Journal, Paradise Wavering by Alice Hargrave, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs.

As a sculptor, Professor Jamey Grimes explores the sometimes overwhelming and awe-inspiring relationship between viewer and nature in his larger-than-life sculptures, which often show the influence of his interest in biology. “The objects and environments that I create are fueled by encounters with natural forces, both real and imagined,” Grimes notes. With synthetic materials, often plastic, he manipulates them into forms that he hopes will “engulf the viewer in an experience that is simultaneously unsettling and serene. My intent is to remind one of their relationship and scale to the forces of nature.” Grimes uses synthetics materials because “they have been cleansed of nature’s direct influence and reset by human manufacturing processes. Through abstraction and re-interpretation, patterns emerge from the medium and quickly emulate more complex natural designs.”

Professor Jason Guynes works extensively in oil on canvas and with drawing media, and for the past twenty years, his primary focus has been murals. He has completed both private and public commissions throughout the United States with major commissions in Mesa, Ariz.; Joplin, Mo., Philadelphia, Pa., Livingston, Ala. and Mobile, Ala. A recent mural project was the Moulton Bell Tower Mural for the University of South Alabama. He is Past President of SECAC, the second largest arts organization of its kind in the US.

Professor Holland Hopson is a sound and media artist, and a composer and improviser. A multi-instrumentalist, he usually performs on clawhammer banjo and electronics. Holland often augments his instruments with custom-designed sensor interfaces and performs with his own highly responsive, interactive computer programs. Holland has performed in Australia, Europe and North America along with notable experimental and outsider musicians such as MacArthur Genius Grant winners Anthony Braxton and George Lewis, live electronics pioneer David Behrman, sonic meditator Pauline Oliveros, mutantrumpeter Ben Neill, network music trailblazer Tim Perkis, free-improv innovators LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams, and others.

As a ceramic sculptor, Professor Wade MacDonald explores the intersection of ceramics, digital fabrication, furniture design and architecture. He and his work have been profiled in American Craft Magazine (August/September 2018) and in 2018, he received the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Emerging Artist Award. He has exhibited nationally and has held artist residencies at Anderson Ranch Art Center, in Snowmass, Colo.; Banff Centre, in Banff, Alberta; and the Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, Mt.

Professor Sarah Marshall is interested in how everyday experiences are constructed and recorded in the human mind. Her work explores the links between direct sensory encounters and a rich history of belief, imagination, and memory. Plant forms, animal forms and the figure reference the physical world. Manipulated words and letterforms, and references to language and translation suggest the complexities of human thought, learning and behavior. She often works with appropriated source imagery, cutting apart and recombining elements, and abstracting them through simplification, repetition, and layering. Her attraction to the multiple comes from the possibility of infinite variation as much as infinite repeatability, and a family of related images often replaces the edition in her studio practice. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is included in public and private collections.

Professor Celestia Morgan is a conceptual photographer and sculptor whose work explores personal histories, geographical landscapes, and systematic racism found within housing practices. Morgan has presented her work in solo exhibitions at the Paul R. Jones Museum, Tuscaloosa; Birmingham Museum of Art; and The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Morgan has also exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Art; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.; National Public Housing Museum’s Undesign the Redline in Chicago, Illinois; New Southern Photography Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, and Land Line: Navigating Our Environment, Columbus, Ga. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesLenscratchThe Bitter SouthernerArt Papers, the Southern Foodways Alliance journal Gravy; New Southern Photography; and Burnaway.

Drawing serves as the central axis for all facets of Professor Pete Schulte’s work, which include the integration of works on paper, three-dimensional objects, and site-specific wall drawings. Schulte has presented recent solo exhibitions and installations at Mckenzie Fine Art, New York, New York; The Lamar Dodd School of Art at The University of Georgia; The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson New York; Whitespace Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia; and The Woskob Family Gallery at Penn State University. His work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally. Hyperallergic, Art in America, World Sculpture News, Burnaway, and The New Art Examiner have reviewed his work, among other publications. In 2017 Schulte was awarded the inaugural Southern Art Prize Fellowship for the state of Alabama. He has been awarded residencies at The Chinati Foundation (2019), Hambidge Center for Creative Arts (2016), Yaddo (2015), Altantic Center for the Arts (2010), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (2010), and Threewalls (2010).  In 2013 Schulte co-founded, with Amy Pleasant, The Fuel and Lumber Company curatorial initiative. He is represented by McKenzie Fine Art in New York City.

Professor Bryce Speed describes his approach to painting: “The natural world provides many visual analogies for the great depth and mysteries of the human mind. These paintings illustrate a boundless inner life, amplified by our senses, and its extension in to the world. Fluid topographies, discontinuous scale and color suggest the expansive and conflicting systems of nature as a metaphor for the evolving self. Language further helps us understand our interactions and place in the world, but is limited in scope to define our most unexplainable experiences and interactions. Painting can connect form and idea in a way that is unique to the medium and I try to embrace this possibility in my work.” Speed has exhibited nationally and internationally including at at the Royal Scottish Academy Open Exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the North Wall Arts Center in Oxford, UK, as well as HERE Art Center in New York, NY. He is represented by the Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans, LA.

Professor Craig Wedderspoon’s work focuses on the examination of the intrigue of process and the potential of material to communicate thought in the expression of visual philosophy. Originally trained as a glass and crystal carver, Wedderspoon now specializes in metal and wood fabrication and works in a variety of scales for both indoor and outdoor, permanent and temporary installations and exhibitions. His creative research interests include projects geared towards community service and outreach in the West Alabama area.

Professor Melissa Yes is an artist who is curious about cultural clichés that are associated with the United States, and how these tropes have been shaped by television and the Internet. Ambitious multimedia projects are the gravitational center of her practice, which also sustains an orbit of smaller experiments in video, sculpture and painting. She often works collaboratively and creates contexts for engaged participation, facilitating physical or conversational immersion in the work. She exhibits nationally and is a recipient of a Photography/Media Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. In addition to her art practice, Yes is a co-director and curator at Vinegar, a nonprofit contemporary art space that she co-founded in Birmingham in 2019. Vinegar exhibits artists who are working in emerging and experimental art forms, and champions art’s capacity to support, challenge and enrich our collective consciousness.