Hank Willis Thomas, Chris Johnson, Bayete Ross Smith, Kamal Sinclair // October 6 – December 29, 2013
Question Bridge is a trans-media art project that counters established notions of Black masculinity in the United States. The project presents more than three hours of videotaped interviews with several dozen Black men, who are seen on multiple video screens. As a multi-generational and cross-national project, Question Bridge addresses pressing issues that Black men face in the United States. Men from Birmingham are included in this dialogue that encompasses issues of race, class, sexuality, and economic status, asking questions that are political, humorous, painful, and poignant. Visitors are invited to experience an intimate exchange between subjects of the project. The installation creates a platform for participants to represent and redefine Black male identity in America.
September 8 – December 2, 2013
Acclaimed portrait photographer Dawoud Bey presents an exhibition that symbolically commemorates the four young girls whose lives were senselessly lost on September 15, 1963, in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, as well as the two Birmingham boys who lost their lives in the resulting violence that day, Virgil Ware and Johnny Robinson.
To create the portraits, Bey will photograph girls, women, boys and men who presently live in Birmingham. These girls and boys will be the same ages (11, 13, 14, and 16) as the children who lost their lives that day in 1963, and the women and men will be the ages of those boys and girls if they were still alive today. Without specifically referencing these incidents, the project serves as both a memorial to lives lost, and as a message of hope and promise for the future.
The Birmingham Project is presented by PNC Bank; the catalogue is sponsored by EBSCO Media.
April 25, 2013 6:30pm in the Museum’s Steiner Auditorium
Artist, activist, and urban-planner Theaster Gates will perform with The Black Monks of Mississippi, an ensemble of musicians who employ a variety of musical traditions, which range from spirituals, blues, gospel and Buddhist and Zen chants. The performance will connect with the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church using as inspiration media coverage of the incident, as well as archival materials of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.
For 'Tis So Sweet or I Need Sugar Lawd, Gates will imagine a set of musical encounters that examine the relationship between human desire, public ecstasy and artistic practice. With musical support from the Black Monks of Mississippi, Gates will share new stories from the north, old stories from the east, and nearly audible fragments from the eternal. This body of work will be recorded live and will be the basis for Gates' most recent performative endeavor "Songs From the Storefront.”
Seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis!
August 18–November 17, 2013 // Jemison Galleries
Etched in Collective History presents artists who interrogate, depict, and memorialize the Civil Rights Movement. The Movement inspired a number of artists to participate physically, in marches and sit-ins, as well as creatively, through the act of making art. This exhibition acknowledges these artists, the generations that came after, and most importantly the four young girls— Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley—who died in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.
The bombing will be situated in relation to the 1950s and 1960s, taking into consideration the events that occurred before and after the tragedy. Additionally, the exhibit will reflect a multi-generational response to both the Civil Rights Movement and the bombing itself. This framework presents a number of voices: multiple viewpoints are needed to understand the impact of racial intolerance and racism against African Americans in this period. These various voices will include male and female artists, as well as local and national artists. With this approach, the audience will learn that there are a number of ways of understanding this period, from a heterogeneous group, thus challenging singular interpretations of history and African Americans.
Etched in Collective History is presented by Regions Bank; additional support provided by Walter Energy.
June 9–September 1, 2013 // Bohorfoush Gallery
The Museum actively acquires African American art for the permanent collection. The Birmingham Museum of Art’s Sankofa Society: Friends of American and African Art support group plays an integral role in supporting the Museum’s mission of building the African American art collection. Sankofa has and continues to help the Museum by acquiring African American art. As a celebration of Sankofa’s contributions to the Museum, this exhibition will highlight the group’s acquisitions and acquisitions made in honor of Sankofa.
Spring 2013 // Sculpture Garden
Horizons is an outdoor installation by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir (pronounced Stay-nun Thor-orens-daughter). The exhibition comprises 12 androgynous, life-sized iron figures, eleven standing and one seated. Each sculpture is unique, and has a polished glass band inserted in its torso. The arrangement of Horizons is not predetermined; at the BMA, the twelve figures will be interspersed between the Upper Plaza and the Sculpture Pit, requiring viewers to interact and connect with the sculptures over time and in different places.
New Gallery of African Ceramics Opens // February 22, 2013
On February 22, 2013 the Museum unveiled the superb Jemison Collection of African Ceramics in a newly dedicated gallery. The works come primarily from West, Central, and Southern Africa, and were created for utilitarian and ritual use. Visitors will not only appreciate the variety, technological skill and artistry represented in African ceramics, but they can explore the styles influenced by place, the similarities and differences of neighboring cultures, and an object’s role in communication.
Navajo Textiles from the Birmingham Museum of Art
Available soon from the Apple App Store.
Woven Splendor showcases images of 9 Navajo chief blankets and rugs from the Birmingham Museum of Art’s permanent collection, dating from the late-19th to the mid-20th centuries, as well as an essay detailing the unique history of this art form. Select images can be enlarged to show weaving patterns and detail.
The practice of weaving has been an important part of Navajo identity since its introduction by their Pueblo neighbors in the 16th century. Chief blankets were worn by both Navajo men and women and were also traded to neighboring tribes and Spanish settlers, who considered them symbols of high status. After the arrival of American traders in the mid-19th century, the chief blanket was replaced by the rug, which was highly desired by the American market on the East Coast.
This guide was created in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name, presented by the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama. Woven Splendor is the first in a series of digital gallery guides from the Birmingham Museum of Art.