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Gandhi Jayanti 2014

Peace and Unity. Hannah Amidon, 11th grade, Hoover High School.

Peace and Unity. Hannah Amidon, 11th grade, Hoover High School.

Each year, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Indian Cultural Society co-sponsor a contest that celebrates the connection between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., two of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.

This year’s participants and winners were recognized at a special reception in honor of Gandhi’s birthday (Gandhi Jayanti) at the Museum on October 17, 2014.

The Museum and the Indian Cultural Society congratulate all of the students who participated in the 2014 Gandhi Jayanti Essay and Poster Contest.




  • First Place, Hannah Amidon
  • Second Place, Samantha Bearden
  • Third Place, Sadie Odom and Carolina Phillips
  • Honorable Mention, Alex Stern
  • Honorable Mention, John Larrimore
  • Honorable Mention, Powell McCormick

All participants

Special thanks to our supporters:

  • Alabama Humanities Foundation
  • Alabama State Council on the Arts
  • Alabama Writer’s Forum
  • Indian Cultural Society


Be a Part of the Big Picture

Donate Now

Walking down the long hallway toward the American Gallery, you see Albert Bierstadt’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California. At just over five feet tall and eight feet wide, the grand dimensions of this beloved painting serve to convey the immense, wild beauty of the American West.

How was this renowned painting acquired by the Birmingham Museum of Art and what does it take to present, preserve, and interpret this masterpiece?

It is all part of the big picture. Every piece in our collection has a story and you are a part of the story, part of the big picture. We need your help to continue caring for and presenting the 27,212 works of art in our permanent collection, including the much-loved Bierstadt.

In order to continue bringing art into the lives of more than 140,000 people each year, the Birmingham Museum of Art asks you to be a part of the big picture. Please join us by giving to the Annual Fund in honor of our big picture or your favorite work of art.

To learn more about the Annual Fund, click here.

Spotlight on the Collection

November 2014: Buffalo Vector

Buffalo Vector (Yellowstone Border). Merritt Johnson, 2009-2010. Oil and alkyd on canvas. Gift of the artist, AFI463.2012.

Buffalo Vector (Yellowstone Border). Merritt Johnson, 2009-2010. Oil and alkyd on canvas. Gift of the artist, AFI463.2012.

Buffalo Vector (Yellowstone Border), Merritt Johnson, 2009-2010

It is always rewarding to see Museum visitors draw close to a work of art, stop, and look closely. Without fail, this painting compels people to draw near.

From afar, Buffalo Vector is discernible as a landscape with rolling grassy hills, a beautiful golden green in the foreground, and cooler gray in the background against a backdrop of blue sky. Dark evergreens punctuate the terrain. A brilliant band of red divides the canvas horizontally, creating a boundary between the foreground and the background. The hard-edged band is broken in places, and red paint bleeds into the landscape below. In the foreground, a single buffalo stands out, dark brown against the golden grass. In the background, smaller buffalo make their way toward the foreground and the bleeding red boundary. Hundreds of delicate arrows and vector lines float on the surface of this scene, evoking the movement of the breeze, swirling insects, rising waves of heat, or the descent of raindrops from the sky.

In this work, Johnson – an artist of Mohawk, Blackfoot, and non-indigenous descent – considers the boundary of Yellowstone National Park, a designated habitat for the protection of bison, which were driven to near extinction in the 19th century. As with other elements of nature that cannot be contained or controlled – such as the flight of birds, the migration of animals, or seeds carried on the wind – the buffalo do not recognize the line of demarcation that defines the space where they should and should not roam, nor the dangers they face when they cross that border.

Johnson writes, “Human investment in land is so much about resources, about what we can get for land and what land can do for us. It’s all about use, for our comfort or convenience… I think that there is an Indigenous approach to land: to view the land as something that we need to sustain, rather than the land sustaining us. I think about the relationship that animals have to the land as being an Indigenous relationship.”

10 Art-Inspired Halloween Costumes

10 Art-Inspired Halloween Costumes

Happy Halloween! There’s no place better than the Museum to be inspired, so why not draw from our collection for your Halloween costume this year? There are plenty of spooky sights and colorful characters in our galleries to create a costume

This gallery contains 10 images. View All Images »


Meet the BMA’s Newest Support Group

The Birmingham Museum of Art has launched a new support group for members who are interested in learning (or learning more) about the world of art collecting. This group, called Emerging Collectors, will take the mystery out of establishing and maintaining a collection through educational events, exclusive tours of private collections, discussions with BMA curators, and more. While connecting with fellow art enthusiasts, the Emerging Collectors support group will also become more familiar with the Museum’s collection and other support groups.

Elizabeth and Bill KoleszarElizabeth and Bill Koleszar, chairs of Emerging Collectors, hosted a kickoff event at their home in September. Guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while meeting the Museum’s curatorial staff and hearing about plans for Emerging Collectors this year. New Emerging Collectors members were also invited to join the Friends of American Art to view the private collection of  Marlene and Crawford Taylor in October. More events for Emerging Collectors will be scheduled soon!

Click here for more information on Emerging Collectors, or to join this support group.

Mobile Tours

So Close to Heaven smartguide feature

SCTH iPad home

The Museum recently added 10 new stops to its smartguide in conjunction with the opening of So Close to Heaven: Sacred Sculpture from the Weldon Collection. The So Close to Heaven smartguide feature, available for FREE here, complements any visit to the exhibition and allows visitors to explore artworks and themes in-depth.

The So Close to Heaven smartguide feature includes:

  • An overview and welcome to the exhibition from Dr. Donald A. Wood, the Museum’s Senior Curator and Curator of Asian Art
  • Images and more information about individual artworks and groups of artworks in the exhibition
  • Audio commentary from specialists on Asian art, history, and culture
  • Video Masters of Fire, which explores lost-wax casting, molded sculptures, and finishing techniques
  • Close-looking activity about mudras (symbolic or ritual gestures)
  • A new Family Focus! tour, “Animals as Assistants,” for adults and children to explore together

The So Close to Heaven smartguide feature, accessed for FREE here, is optimized for tablets, smartphones, and other web-enabled devices. Visitors without their own devices may check out an iPad for FREE from the Museum’s information desk, located on the 2nd floor in front of Oscar’s café; FREE WiFi is also available throughout the Museum. Headphones are also available in the Museum Store for visitors who would like to access audio and video content in the exhibition.

Using your web-enabled smart device, click here to get started.


Interview: Design Week Birmingham


Design Week Birmingham is a multifaceted event that includes installations, lectures, film showings, exhibits, workshops, and social gatherings inspired by the belief that design matters. In its second year, Design Week Birmingham will be held October 20-25, 2014, featuring plenty of ways for everyone to get involved, learn something new, and see Birmingham’s creative community at work.

We recently spoke with Shannon Harris, Senior Art Director at BIG Communications, who has also been an integral part of beginning, continuing, and implementing plans for Design Week Birmingham.

Shannon Harris

Shannon Harris

1. This year marks the second annual Design Week Birmingham. As a relatively new organization, where did the idea to create Design Week Birmingham begin?

A couple of years ago, several of the core organizers of Design Week were involved in cross-disciplinary design projects all over town. Andrew Thompson of Lewis Communications and Plenty Design Co-op were working on a group show about micro-manufacturing. I was working with a group of architects on a brand for Second Avenue North. Creative Director at the Museum James Williams was working on an early modern art and design exhibit for October 2013 called Vanguard Views. Bruce Lanier of Standard Creative was launching MAKE. Rhea Williams of AIA was launching a new space for designers called the Alabama Center for Architecture. Amy Pleasant was inviting creative folks from all over town to give Rapid Fire presentations in her beautiful backyard home studio.

It was at Amy’s that I met Jared Fulton of Williams Blackstock Architects. He had been working with Andrew on the Plenty Design Co-op project, and the two of them decided that this thing absolutely must happen. It was just the right time in Birmingham for all of these collaborators to combine efforts and create something bigger—and we couldn’t be happier that we did. There are volunteers on our committee from creative companies all over town that have spent the last year planning an amazing Design Week!

2. What happens at Design Week Birmingham? What role do you play in the orchestration of Design Week Birmingham?

Design Week Birmingham is a series of events all over town that brings designers and lovers of design from all disciplines together to celebrate, collaborate, and learn. We have documentaries, workshops, presentations, and even a beautiful design shop. You can check out the full schedule of events on the Design Week Birmingham website. As for my role, I’m involved in the planning of several events including the Printers Fair and Aaron Draplin’s keynote presentation. We’re a small group of all volunteers, so everyone on the committee has to wear a lot of hats.

3. Is there anything we can expect this year to be different from last year’s Design Week Birmingham?

We have 23 events on this year’s calendar compared with 14 last year. It’s bigger, more organized, and maybe even a touch more edgy.

4. Will you be participating in Design Week Birmingham? If so, what events are you looking forward to most?

Of course! It’s the best week of the year! I’m most looking forward to hearing the renowned/notorious Aaron Draplin do his thing; going to the Printers Fair, where I hope to walk away with all kinds of beautiful new printed treats; and finally heading to Rapid Fire for a night of intense inspiration for people with short attention spans. And I don’t think anyone should miss Ford Wiles’ and James Williams’ ArtBreak on Tuesday during lunch. They’ll be taking us through the process of shaping the future of the Museum’s brand.

5. How does the Birmingham Museum of Art influence your work in design and your outlook as a designer?

I’ve been working with a group for the past few months at BIG Communications and the team at BMA on a new brand for the Museum. During that time, I’ve had the pleasure of touring the BMA’s permanent collection. Besides the obvious visual inspiration and head-clearing powers of the Museum, I’m inspired by the restraint the curators use by showing us only a section of their huge collection at a time. This kind of selection means the Museum is always a new experience for its visitors. We want Design Week to also be sustainable for years to come, so each year we only present a fraction of Birmingham and the region’s rich design culture.

To learn more about Design Week Birmingham and the schedule of events, please visit their website. If you want to get involved with Design Week Birmingham at the Museum, be sure to come for our ArtBreak on Tuesday, October 21 at noon, and to Andrew Freear’s lecture on Wednesday, October 22 at 4PM. Both events are free and open to the public!