placeholder inline full widthAmy Williamson, M.A. Art History

After finishing an M.A. in Art History at UAB, Amy Williamson took on a new role at the Alabama State Council on the Arts

Amy Williamson, a Birmingham native, earned her Master of Arts degree in art history from the UAB Department of Art and Art History in 2016. Williamson’s graduate research focused on women’s art collecting practices and museology. She now works as the Visual Arts Program Manager and Gallery Manager of the Georgine Clarke Alabama Artists Gallery at the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Here, she reflects on her career and graduate experience:

“I love highlighting Alabama’s talented visual artists, their unique perspectives and the inspiring work they create,” Williamson says. “I get to build relationships with talented artists and arts administrators across the state. I also get the chance to pay forward all the ways my UAB professors helped advance my career, by helping promote and fund Alabama artists and arts organizations. This is an incredibly rewarding and exciting opportunity.

“While the MA program certainly prepared me by giving me the art historical knowledge required for the field, one of the highlights of the program for me was the opportunity to co-curate an exhibition with [UAB Associate Professor of Art History Cathleen Cummings, Ph.D.]. Working hands-on to mount a show — from planning to writing object labels and preparing the gallery — I gained firsthand curatorial experience that proved just as valuable as the knowledge learned during lectures.”

daah textiles installationWIlliamson was a co-curator on Cathleen Cummings' exhibition, "Objects of Authority: Contemporary Textiles from Western India" at UAB's AEIVA.

Williamson’s professors supported her thesis and encouraged her to travel to present her research. “I appreciate my professors’ taking time to prepare me for the real world and a career in speaking to diverse audiences about the arts. I now give presentations on grant applications to artists and arts organizations statewide, a skill that was honed years ago at graduate student symposiums. I believe that, by working on both the critical knowledge and everyday skills, UAB helped make me more a well-rounded arts professional.”

“My thesis project [“The Ladies Who Founded MOMA: How Three Female Art Collectors Created One of the World’s Leading Museums.” grew out of a paper for one of my first classes at UAB, Modern and Contemporary Art to 1945, with Professor of Art History Heather McPherson, Ph.D. It was the first time in my life that I thought critically about the work that goes into amassing a collection of artwork and then creating a repository for those objects. Giving art collecting scholarly treatment, especially women’s collecting, is still a relatively new field of study, and I appreciate the attention to art historical trends paid by the faculty at UAB.”

Williamson traveled to MOMA’s archives to finish her thesis. “During my time at UAB, I was awarded an Ireland Travel Grant, a Graduate Student Association Travel Stipend and the Klaus Urban Scholarship. This financial support enabled me to complete my research and to build a competitive resume.”

“I have to say that the times are definitely more favorable for women working in the arts than they were for the women who founded MoMA in 1929… I will not say, however, that everything is perfect for women in any workplace… In contrast, I briefly mention race at various points in my thesis, especially looking at how in 1929 Manhattan both race and gender were ‘disqualifiers’ for those seeking to navigate the art world. The Mellon Foundation report shows that the number of people of color working in the field is around 28 percent, with only 20 percent of curatorial, leadership or educational positions being held by people of color. To me, there is need for more racial diversity and inclusion in the arts; arts professionals must continue to strive to remove the… socially constructed barriers that discourage more people of color from pursuing careers in this field.”

“One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet and visit with artists and arts organizations statewide… I aim to be a cheerleader for Alabama artists and visual arts organizations and hope to support them in any and every way I am able.”

georgine clark gallery panoramaGeorgine Clark Alabama Artists Gallery in the ASCA headquarters in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.

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