Works by art and art history faculty from the University of Alabamaand the University of Alabama at Birmingham will be on exhibition Aug. 5-Sept. 30 at the University of Alabama Gallery, in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in downtown Tuscaloosa.
The exhibition is free and open to the public; an opening reception is planned for 5-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, in the gallery, 620 Greensboro Ave.
The show will include the works of 22 artists, from printmakers and painters to sculptors and more.
Each university has a great program, says Craig Wedderspoon, a UA professor of sculpture. Although they are in the same university system, the two departments have never collaborated. He hopes this exhibition will spark more collaboration with each university and other art departments in the area.
“We want to be more integrated with the schools in the rest of the state and region,” Wedderspoon said.
Derek Cracco. "Phoenix Cluster" | Acrylic on panel | 2016Participating faculty from the UA Department of Art and Art Historyinclude Adrienne Callander (fibers), Jane Cassidy (digital media),William Dooley (painting and drawing), Jason Guynes (painting),Chris Jordan (digital media), Sarah Marshall (printmaking), Matt Mitros (ceramics), Giang Pham (studio foundations), Pete Schulte(drawing), Sky Shineman (painting), Bryce Speed (painting) and Wedderspoon.
Participating faculty from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences’Department of Art and Art History include James Alexander(ceramics), Doug Barrett (graphic design), Douglas Baulos(drawing and bookmaking), Gary Chapman (painting and drawing),Derek Cracco (printmaking), Stacey Holloway (sculpture), Lauren Lake (drawing), Elisabeth Pellathy (new media), Sonja Rieger(photography) and Erin Wright (graphic design).
The University of Alabama Gallery offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions from permanent collections held by UA, as well as works by faculty, students, and guest artists and designers. It is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. For more information, call the gallery at 205-345-3038 or 205-342-2060.
The exhibition includes works by 22 faculty members in many media. A free opening reception is planned for 5-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, at the UA Gallery.
Kids often acquire S. mutans, a cavity-causing bacterium from nonfamily members, researchers report at the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting.Children often aquire S. mutans from non-family members.New ongoing research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Biologyand School of Dentistry is showing more evidence that children may receive oral microbes from other, nonrelative children.
It was previously believed that these microbes were passed primarily from mother to child, but in a recent study presented at the American Society for Microbiology MICROBE 2016 Meeting in Boston, researchers found that 72 percent of children harbored at least one strain of the cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans not found in any cohabiting family members.
S. mutans is a bacterium that feeds on fermentable carbohydrates, in particular sucrose, that are frequently consumed by humans. After meals, S. mutans produces enamel-eroding acids, which makes S. mutans one of the main causes of tooth decay, or dental caries, in humans.
Study author Stephanie Momeni, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biology at UAB, says she wanted to track the transmission of S. mutans in a first-of-its-kind large-scale epidemiological study in Perry County, Alabama. Momeni conducted her research in the laboratory of Noel Childers, DDS, Joseph F. Volker Endowed Chair and Chair of UAB’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry.
One hundred nineteen African-American children ages 12-18 months and 5-6 years who lived with at least one family member were a part of the study. The researchers collected samples from children periodically over the course of eight years. Momeni says that dental caries are more prevalent in minorities and low-socioeconomic groups.
“The literature tells us that we usually get this bacterium from our mothers,” Momeni said. “This is because we most commonly have more interaction with our mothers when we are very young. However, our data supports that children who interact with other children at school or in nurseries can, and frequently do, contract this bacteria from each other.”
Momeni says any interaction that involves saliva, like sharing an ice cream cone or drinking after another child from the same cup or straw, can cause the microbes to be transferred.
“While the data supports that S. mutans is often acquired through mother-to-child interactions, the current study illuminates the importance of child-to-child acquisition of S. mutans strains and the need to consider these routes of transmission in dental caries risk assessments, prevention and treatment strategies,” Momeni said.
Forty percent of the children in the study did not share any S. mutans strains with their mothers, and close to 20 percent of children shared these bacteria only with another child who lived in the household, such as a sibling or cousin.
It is important to note that, for the strains of S. mutans not shared with anyone in the same household, approximately a third of the children had only a single isolate for a genotype, which could mean these rare strains may have nothing to do with the dental caries, and may be confounding the search for strains associated with the disease.
Further analysis with an alternate bacterial typing method is needed to confirm these findings, and it is important to note that in some rare instances not all household family members chose to participate in the study.
When Momeni discusses S. mutans, she makes a point to ease mothers’ concerns they often have of passing along oral microbes that cause tooth decay to their children.
“We’re not trying to say don’t kiss your babies,” Momeni said. “Kissing your children has important positive psychological as well as possibly biological effects on childhood development.”
Momeni is also a dental academic research training fellow in the Department of Pediatric Dentisty. This research was funded by theNational Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Investigating a 4,000-year-old cave painting with UAB art history graduate student Celeste Paxton.You might think that someone who spends her days surrounded by Civil War muskets and Sherman tanks would be hard to impress when it comes to military relics. But Celeste Paxton has never seen anything like the 4,000-year-old painting she came across in a rock shelter in central India. The painting, which she dubbed “Chariot Drawn by Four Horses” (and is seen above), offers clues to the early history of art, warfare and human civilization itself.
Celeste Paxton on location at Chaturbhujnath Nala.Paxton works at the Museum Support Center at the Anniston Army Depot, a vast storage facility that houses close to 200,000 artifacts for the U.S. Army Center of Military History. (Picture a well-lit version of the massive government warehouse at the end of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.”) She’s also a graduate student studying South Asian art in theUAB College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History.
A few years ago, Paxton came across photos of Chaturbhujnath Nala, an ancient rock art site in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh that is the longest rock art gallery in the world. Weathered rock overhangs of quartzite stretch several miles on either bank of a small tributary of the Chambal River. They are filled with paintings, some of them unique in Indian rock art. Researchers have found “scavenging birds, mating tigers and wild animals interacting with humans, such as a scene of elephants chasing a hunter,” Paxton says. Some of the images date back as far as the Upper Paleolithic period, between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Wars of the worldBut of all the paintings at Chaturbhujnath Nala — and there are thousands — “Chariot Drawn by Four Horses” stands out. It depicts two warriors riding in a single-axle chariot. One wields an axe. Both are wearing helmets — or perhaps elaborate hairdos. To their right are two more weapon-carrying soldiers and a fifth, unreined horse, along with another animal that may be a deer. On the left is a much larger figure holding some kind of “fiery or explosive weapon in his right hand,” Paxton says. “This is a very unusual subject in rock art. You see a lot of handprints and animal imagery, but chariots are quite rare, especially in India. That caught my attention right away.”
Closeup of "Chariot Drawn by Four Horses," including the mysterious figure at left, "a very unusual subject in rock art," Paxton says.
Paxton dug deeper, impressed by the painting’s “extraordinary complexity and social awareness.” It raised many intriguing questions, she says, and could help answer others. “It comes from a transitional time in human history,” she says. “This era produced the first arms race of the ancient world. You are getting the first war machines — metal weapons are first being formed, chariots are first coming into being and you start to see widespread warfare.”
Chariots and fireBased on mineral analysis and stylistic comparisons with other artworks, “‘Chariot’ dates approximately to between 2,300 and 1,000 BCE,” Paxton says. “That’s the Neo-Chalcolithic period, when the first copper and bronze castings were being created in India,” she notes. The painting could help inform studies of the timing and extent of military development and early state formation in South Asia. Or perhaps it may mark the dawn of new religious traditions. It was painted at about the same time that the most ancient Hindu texts, the Vedas, were being composed. Could the large figure with the fiery hand represent a heroic figure, or perhaps a Vedic god interacting with men?
Paxton traveled to Chaturbhujnath Nala in spring 2016, at the end of the dry season. In the rainy season, the small creek that flows next to the ancient rock shelters can rise more than a dozen feet.
In comparison to other rock art sites, very little has been written about Chaturbhujnath Nala, and even fewer images are available, Paxton says. Working with her mentor, associate professor Cathleen Cummings, Ph.D., she developed a two-pronged approach for her master’s thesis. She would do a close analysis of the artistic choices in the painting, such as the decision to use a bird’s-eye view of the chariot. “I think this was very intentional,” Paxton says. “These artists knew how to show things realistically, but the images I’m looking at are shown abstractly. Those choices make it a true work of art.” Paxton is also “taking a step back to ask how this work fits into the history of rock art, and art history as a whole,” she says.
Drinks with royaltyPaxton’s research took a major step forward this spring, when she and her husband spent two weeks in India, traveling to Chaturbhujnath Nala and several other ancient art monuments across the country. She met with noted scholars, stayed in a palace once owned by the Maharajah of Jhalawar “and had evening drinks with his grandson,” Paxton says. She took more than 700 photos of the rock art galleries, rising early in the morning to make the two-hour trip to Chaturbhujnath Nala from Jhalawar, “the closest city with any type of accommodations.”
Paxton took more than 700 photos at Chaturbhujnath Nala, documenting the site like never before. The guide in the foreground is watching for jaguars, which had been seen in the park that day.
When she first started studying the site, Paxton had a hunch that the small stream flowing between the rock shelters might have been used for artistic effect, reflecting shimmering light onto the paintings. (See video clip below.)
“I had all these ideas about the reflection from the water,” Paxton says. “Dr. Cummings encouraged me to think about field research and told me about the Caroline P. Ireland Travel Grant, which gave me $1,000 toward my research.”
Jain temple in Bhopal, India
Close up and far awayPaxton, who has an undergraduate degree in art from Jacksonville State University, always knew she wanted to study art history in graduate school. “I talked to my mentor there, Dr. Karen Henricks – she had wonderful things to say about the professors at UAB, and they were true,” Paxton says. “Dr. Cummings has been instrumental in my development as a student.” Paxton’s studies have also proven helpful in her day job at the Museum Support Center, she adds. “The research skills I’ve acquired at UAB have been very useful at work,” where she is one of several charged with the inventory, cataloguing, research and proper storage of everything from macro-artifacts like the “Atomic Annie” — the Army’s M65 nuclear cannon — to microartifacts such as a custom-painted WWII bomber jacket. “One of the things that professors at UAB like Dr. Cummings and Dr. Jessica Dallow have shown me is that while it is important to do a close analysis of the artwork or artifact, it’s also important to take a step back, to examine the broader context of the object in question and see it as part of a larger whole,” Paxton says. “I try to always keep that in mind and approach my research from both angles.”
The trip offered Paxton a chance to experience the vibrant pageantry of rural Indian life, including this family outing aboard a moped.
After finishing her master’s degree, Paxton plans to take some time off to refine her “museum skills” before going on to get her doctorate. “My dream job would be to work with South Asian art in a museum or research institute,” she says. “Dr. Cummings is now helping me find opportunities to do more fieldwork — things that will really broaden my understanding of South Asian art.”
Voices from the pastPaxton is also focusing on cataloguing the images she captured at Chaturbhujnath Nala and in the surrounding villages, where she found strikingly similar paintings on the exterior walls of many homes. “There are images that are almost identical to the rock art,” she says. “In India, rock art is not always valued. Many Indians believe it was done by foreigners or supernatural forces and so they do not consider it part of their cultural or artistic legacy. As a result, many rock art sites have been subject to vandalism and in worst-case scenarios, even blown up to build roadways or flooded by dams. That part of their heritage is now lost forever.”
Although ancient rock art sites are often undervalued, the artistic styles found there are still reflected in current village life, as seen on this house.
Paxton hopes her research will help secure the rightful place of these sites in art history, Indian history and world history. “I want to substantiate that Chaturbhujnath Nala and similar rock art sites are a significant part of India’s cultural heritage, as well as the cultural heritage of all human beings, and that they should be preserved,” she says. “Demonstrating the continuity between the art done then and now helps to make that case.”