Third Space

The Birmingham Museum of Art is proud to present Third Space, the first large exhibition…

Jan 28, 2017 - Jan 06, 2019

The Birmingham Museum of Art is proud to present Third Space, the first large exhibition of contemporary art from the Museum’s own collection.Third Space features over 100 works of art in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video, by artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Ebony G. Patterson, Mark Bradford, José Bedia, Thornton Dial, and William Christenberry. The exhibition creates connections between the American South and other parts of the world using contemporary art.


About the Exhibition

Curated by Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Wassan Al-Khudhairi, the exhibition borrows Homi Bhaba’s term ‘third space,’ which he defines as a space that “challenges our sense of the historical identity of culture as a homogenizing, unifying force, authenticated by the originary past, kept alive in the national tradition of the People.”

Ghetto Wall #1, David C. Driskell, oil and collage on canvas
David C Driskell American born 1931 Ghetto Wall 1 1971 oil and collage on canvas Gift of the 1972 Festival of the Arts and AG Gaston Purchase Award 19728<br ><i>Copyright David C Driskell Courtesy of the artist<i>

Beyond the geographical boundaries of the American South, the Global South similarly represents marginalized people and places that share a common post-colonial heritage, similar patterns of migration, and other cultural connections. With this in mind, the exhibition examines the Global South from the perspective of the American South by working through a series of ideas that include:

migration/diaspora/exile, gaze/agency/representation, spirit/nature/landscape, and traditions/histories/memory.

In addition to works from the permanent collection, the BMA has commissioned Rural Studio to produce a work of art that can serve as a gathering space within the gallery designed for reflection and contemplation. Rural Studio, founded and headquartered in nearby Hale County, Alabama, is an off-campus, design-build program of Auburn University that provides architectural solutions to underserved populations across the country. In the past year, Rural Studio has participated in several prestigious exhibitions, including the Milan Triennale, and they were selected as the only representative from the United States to present at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Once the exhibition closes, the structure that Rural Studio completes for Third Space will be repurposed for the construction of a house for one of its projects.

Red Trailer, Livingston, Alabama, 1976, William Christenberry, chromogenic print
William Christenberry American 1936 2016 Red Trailer Livingston Alabama 1976 printed 2002 chromogenic print Gift of Maria and Lee Friedlander 200414

A key component of Third Space will be a program series titled Chapters, which invites artists and curators from across the country to Birmingham to discuss their respective practices and ideas surrounding the exhibition. Six Chapters programs will take place over the course of the two-year exhibition and will include artists working in a range of disciplines with varying backgrounds, from those academically trained to those self-taught. The exhibition will be outfitted with various interpretation tools to assist visitors in navigating the gallery. Using their mobile devices, visitors can learn more about works in the exhibition through the BMA’s smartguide, through which they may listen to different perspectives on selected works of art from voices of the Birmingham community.

Be a part of the Third Space by signing up to be a volunteer gallery attendant. Sign up today!

submit a volunteer application


Explore the smartguide before, during, or after your visit.

For an index of the works of art highlighted in the smartguide, click the link below.

Exhibition Support Provided By

Presented By

With Additional Support From

Friends of Third Space


Dr. and Mrs. C. Bruce Alexander, Ms. Lydia Cheney and Mr. James D. Sokol, Jane S. Comer and Charles Lantz, Dr. and Mrs. Frederick J. Elsas, GCP / Graham Commercial Properties, Mr. and Mrs. John L. Hillhouse, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Joel B. Piassick, The Straus Family Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Robin A. Wade


Beverly and Stanley Erdreich, Ms. Dorothy Mitchell, Robin Morgan, Mr. and Mrs. James K. Outland, Mr. Michael Randman, Dr. and Mrs. David A. Skier


Mrs. Barbara Hirschowitz, Mary Lyn and David LaRussa, Dr. Lisa Mani


AG Lighting, BIG Communications, Dr. and Mrs. Jon J. Blankenship, Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, Mr. and Mrs. William J. Cabaniss, Jr., Ms. Tammy D. Cohen and Mr. Richard G. Carnaggio, Mr. and Mrs. Russell J. Drake, Kaaren Hirschowitz Engel, Four Corners Gallery, Mr. Doug McCraw, Mrs. Shirley K. Osband, Mr. and Mrs. T. Alan Ritchie, Jr., Ms. Tina Ruggieri and Mr. Scott Miller


Mr. and Mrs. Michael Balliet, Mrs. Helene S. Elkus, Mr. and Mrs. J. Fred Powell, Margaret Shepherd, Ms. Marcia G. Unger


Mrs. Pam Ausley, Walton & Key Foster, Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin B. Fulmer, Marianne Griffin, Drs. David and Rupa Kitchens, Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Kunzman, Jr., Becky M. Patterson, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Powers, Ms. Carolyn L. Sherer and Ms. Sandra J. O’Neal, Denis and Julia Stork, Mrs. Ann Trondson


ArchitectureWorks, Austin & Co, BLACKSHOP, David Baker Architects, Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio Inc., Scottie and Bruce Lanier, Long & Long Design, Lois and Jim Turnipseed, Pfeffer Torode, Williams Blackstock Architects