Faculty art on display in biennial exhibition

Emma Sower, Contributing Writer

Drawing on a tradition that has existed in The University of Alabama’s Department of Art and Art History for decades, the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art is hosting the Faculty Biennial Exhibition, which features paintings, digital art and sculptures.

The exhibition houses the work of 13 UA faculty members, including Craig Wedderspoon, who, owing to the nature of his work in large public sculptures, has not been able to participate in the show for many years. Some of his previous projects include two sculptures in Woods Quad and the timeline at the Park at Manderson Landing.

This year, however, the exhibition features Wedderspoon’s work in the form of what he referred to as “a very sculptural bench.”

“My mother’s a master quilter, so I’ve always been around quilts. And so I’ve started casting quilt patterns in aluminum, welding them up and fabricating benches and things like that,” he said.

Jason Guynes is an art professor and the art and art history department chair. His featured drawings are sketches of true-to-life geographic locations intermingling with human anatomy.

Guynes’s work is heavily influenced by his travels to Spain, where he hosted a study abroad program focused on art and architecture.

“Spain was one of the first countries I traveled to internationally. I love Spanish art and culture. There’s a sense of magical realism about it,” he said. 

This idea of magical realism, where a mystic element is added to an otherwise ordinary scene, is evident in his works on display at the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art.

“They basically start on a building, but also you’ll find that I draw the landscape and objects that happen to sit on the group next to me or that I see nearby. And then I open the buildings up and inside are human organs,” he said.

Vicki Rial, the exhibitions coordinator for the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, said this faculty exhibition is one of the best she has seen in her 25 years of work with the gallery.

“I think this is a really fine grouping of work from our faculty. They brought some of their best work,” she said.

When the gallery is not hosting its biennial faculty exhibition, it carries exhibits that change several times throughout the year.

“We are a contemporary art space. We show regional art and international artists. Sometimes we show graduate students’ art, so it varies quite a bit,” Rial said. “Next year, we are lining up national and international artists.”

Until Friday, March 11, the gallery will continue to house the faculty exhibition, which has already garnered interest since its opening on Thursday, Feb. 3.

Rial told Wedderspoon that people were engaging with his piece, he said. 

“She told me the other day that people were really excited to sit on my bench. When you go around the corner and the bench is there, they think they’re busted, sitting on a piece of art. But it’s a bench. You can sit on it,” Wedderspoon said.

In contrast to Wedderspoon’s art, which, in its public quality, is conducive to physical and off-the-cuff interactions, Guynes hopes his work will allow viewers to see beyond their immediate surroundings.

“One of the things I enjoy most about art is when it becomes somewhat transcendent. So that’s what my pieces are about, a way to transcend the actual place and get to what the whole meaning is,” Guynes said.

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