The Museum is excited to introduce our new manager of public programs, Carey Fountain, who joined the BMA at the end of March, one week after the Museum closed to the public and staff began working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He quickly jumped in to help create content for our digital platform #BMAfromHome, including the popular Instagram video series Artists in Quarantine. Carey is excited to plan programs and events when the Museum reopens, but for now, he has lots of ideas for how to engage with visitors at home.
Birmingham Museum of Art: When did you first become interested in art?
Carey Fountain: As far as I can remember I’ve always been interested in the arts. It all started with hip-hop to which I’ve been writing songs since the age of 11. Soon the writing turned into wanting to learn about music composition, which turned into an interest in digital art and video editing, which eventually turned into an interest in visual arts and socially-engaged practices. Really just letting my curiosity guide me!
BMA: You have a lot of experience in art education. Can you tell us more about your background?
CF: As an undergrad at the University of Alabama I began experimenting with organizing programs as an intern for Creative Campus, also hosting local concerts, and events for my clothing line Live Grind Love. As I moved to Birmingham, me and a close friend started an art and music event series called LITHOUSE at the Syndicate Lounge. The event was a hit and after two years of consistency, my passion evolved into creating platforms to bring together diverse groups of people in a more interactive art experience and Vibes & Virtues was born. As V&V began to make a name around Birmingham in venues like Carrigan’s Public House and Stephen Smith Fine Art, I began working as a programming director intern for ArtsRevive in Selma, Alabama. During my year with that organization, I fell even further in love with the work and gained a stronger foundation in organizational programming, which eventually led to me now working with BMA!
BMA: Why do you enjoy working in art education and programming?
CF: I am driven by art’s unique ability to inspire change. As a father and an artist, I believe art is a spaceship to freedom, driven by the youth. I enjoy doing what I can to make a difference and working alongside like-minded people that share the same passion to build bridges and tear down walls.
BMA: The Artists in Quarantine series has given our audience a unique opportunity to learn about and hear from local artists. What inspired you to come up with the series?
CF: I think it came up through a conversation with Hallie Ringle, our curator of contemporary art, but the idea was to try to bring clarity in these unprecedented times. By giving local artists a platform to share how they are adapting and working through COVID-19, we can help to make our local arts community stronger and more connected. I’m hoping that AIQ will help us to understand how this all will impact and affect the future of the Birmingham arts community.
BMA: If you had to choose, which AIQ interview has been your favorite so far? Can you give us the inside scoop and tell us who you will interview next?
CF: It’s hard to really pick a favorite because I am always surprised with how much I learn from each artist. There are things I take away from each one that stand out, but to name a few specifics: I enjoyed talking with Steven Finley a lot because I have seen him grow so much throughout the years and hearing him talk about what goes into his powerful work was really inspiring. Doug Baulos is up there, too, because we have never formally met, but had mutual friends and colleagues, so it was great sharing our first conversation on camera and getting a glimpse of his unique perspective and never-ending knowledge.
As for what’s next, I have been reaching out to performance artists, musicians, and other artists that practice in visual arts and beyond to challenge the ways people perceive “art” and shine a light on the people in our community doing amazing things.
BMA: What are you most excited about in your new position?
CF: Transitioning into a new job in the middle of a pandemic, social uprising, and economic turmoil has definitely complicated things! These new challenges excite and inspire me because I believe this is when art can show its true power of unification. I’m honored to be in a position to create programs that will help empower our community.