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UAB Students Curate Exhibition

/ Collections - Exhibitions

Birney Imes, Prairie Chapel Baptism, 1980

On April 2, the Museum will open an exhibition of photographs made in and about the South, curated entirely by students from the University of Alabama Birmingham.

The exhibition, Inherited Scars: A Meditation on the Southern Gothic, is the result of a semester-long collaboration between the Museum’s Contemporary Art Department and UAB’s Department of Art History, in which photography students experienced first-hand the processes of exhibition research and curation.

Conceived by BMA’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wassan AL-Khudhairi and UAB’s Visual and Media Outreach Coodinator and Adjuct Professor of Photography, Jared Ragland, the project began as a way to help students enrolled in a course titled Special Topics: Photography in the South better connect with their subject matter.

“We invited the students to come out of the classroom and into the Museum to participate in the curatorial process from start to finish,” Al-Khudhairi says. “We gave them full access to our resources –from the 35,000 books that comprise our art research library to the database of our permanent collection representing more that 27,000 works of art—and walked them through the process of creating an exhibition narrative and selecting works.”

Provided with support from BMA librarian, Lindsey Reynolds, the students were responsible for the research and selection of the photographs, and the creation of supplemental label copy.

“Inspired by assigned literary work, foundational texts, and contemporary films about regional identity and Southern history, the class focused their curatorial project on notions of the Southern Gothic,” says Ragland.

The exhibition comprises 11 works, including photographs by well-known Southern artists such as William Christenberry and Sally Mann and images by documentary photographers Bruce Davidson and Melissa Springer.

The exhibition was created by UAB students: Jourdan Cunningham, Catherine Duncan, Tyler Harris, Timothy Harstvedt, Devin Lunsford, Stacie Reese, Christianna Traynor, Britney Truitt, and Katie Walden.

Inherited Scars officially opens to the public at the Museum’s event First Thursday: After Hours at the BMA on April 2 and will remain on display through August 9.