In Memoriam: Lisa Tamiris Becker

Lisa Tamiris Becker, founding director of the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, passed away on Friday after an illness.

A Message from the Dean

Colleagues and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share with you that our colleague, Lisa Tamiris Becker, passed away on Friday after an illness. Lisa joined us in the summer of 2014 as the founding director of the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. Before coming to UAB, she was the director of the University of New Mexico Art Museum, where she was also an associate professor. At UNM, she oversaw numerous exhibitions and a permanent collection of more than 30,000 works of art. Before joining UNM, Lisa served as the director of the CU Art Museum at the University of Colorado, Boulder, a position she held for more than 10 years.

Lisa Tamiris BeckerAn accomplished scholar and passionate advocate for contemporary art and artists, Lisa made an immediate impact both on campus and in the larger metropolitan area with her sophisticated, memorable programming. Her hard work and leadership ensured that AEIVA became a major cultural destination in just two short years. Her successful curated shows include “Willie Cole: Transformations,” “David Maisel: Black Maps,” and a series of exhibits by leading Latino artists Enrique Martinez Celaya, Maria Magdalena Compos Pons, and the upcoming exhibit “War and Other Disasters,” featuring the work of Luis Cruz Azaceta that opens on September 9th.

One of the more notable shows from last year, which Lisa produced with project curator Renee Kemp-Rotan and the Mayor’s Office of the City of Birmingham, was “The Freedom Exhibition: Two Countries One Struggle.” That exhibit featured the works of the late Birmingham photographer Spider Martin and Johannesburg photographer Peter Magubane side-by-side in a powerful exploration of the Civil Rights era in America and the apartheid era in South Africa. Her collaboration with the Mayor’s Office helped establish a strong partnership with the City from which the College of Arts and Sciences continues to benefit today.

Give to the Lisa Tamiris Becker Memorial Fund

Lisa Tamiris Becker Memorial Fund

Lisa also built strong relationships with the Birmingham arts community, including private collectors, curators at the Birmingham Museum of Art, gallery owners, local artists, arts writers, and countless others. She established the AEIVA membership program, which increased funding to the Institute and engaged people who may have otherwise never visited our campus before. She was a caring manager, a member of her local faith community, and a loving wife and mother to her two children. She was an enthusiastic new resident of Birmingham and embraced her city, her campus and her role with excitement and joy.

Our hearts go out to Lisa’s loving family. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. We have lost a incredibly talented and well-regarded colleague, and a good friend.

Robert E. Palazzo, PhD
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences