Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Exhibit features work by black artists

In 1963, a group of black artists joined together to form “The Spiral Group.” Their goal was to increase the identity of black artists in contemporary America.

The Ferguson Center Art Gallery will be hosting an exhibit called “Branching Out: Surrounding the Spiral Group” from Sept. 7 to Sept. 30.

The gallery, located in the Ferguson Center next to the Alabama Credit Union, is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. free of charge and is open to the public.

Wesley Rorex, a senior majoring in fashion retailing, explained the excitement of having this exhibit on campus. Rorex works as the Ferguson Art Gallery Coordinator.

“The artists in the gallery are very popular and are internationally or nationally known,” Rorex said.

The Paul R. Jones Collection tells us a great deal, not only about American art, but a period of modern American history and social conditions,” said Robert F. Olin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The collection is unique.”

The Spiral Group has come a long way since their first show, which occurred in May 1964 and was called “Black and White” because it only included the colors black and white.

The nature of the colors was used to represent the conflicts of the Civil Rights Movement during that time. Each of the artists expressed their views on social protest in the show.

The exhibit continues to reflect the different identities and views of the artists. The art includes a wide variety of work, ranging from photos and collages to acrylics and paintings on fabric.

The pieces of art all have one thing in common, however – pride in the black culture. Some art in the exhibit was not created by members of the Spiral Group, but instead by contemporary and later artists who were inspired by the Spiral Group.

“Like the spiral, it continues to extend, to engulf and encompass more and more black artists,” said Richard Mayhew, a member of the Spiral Group. “As a result many groups of artists have come together and now the spiral has become a kind of unusual mystique among them, a symbol of unification and aesthetic values.”

The late Paul Raymond Jones donated the collection to The University of Alabama in October 2008. The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art is one of the world’s largest collections of 20th century Black art. The exhibit will include 15 pieces of art that have been hand-selected for the gallery.

Rorex said working with the collection has been a great experience, partly because University of Alabama Student Affairs and the Paul R. Jones collection, led by Miriam Norris, make a great team.

“When the collection approached us, we immediately approved the exhibit,” he said.

Usually, an artist will apply for a show in the gallery and a committee will decide on the chosen artist. The Ferguson Center is currently accepting application for gallery shows online at the Ferguson Center’s website. Rorex said he encourages students to apply for this “great opportunity.”

“Branching Out: Surrounding the Spiral Group” will be celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the gallery with an opening reception. The event is free for students and will have refreshments.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity to meet people that are influential in the arts at Alabama,” Rorex said.

More to Discover