Artist Douglas Baulos uses Verdant Fund grant for project “Things shouldn’t be so hard”

Baulos, an associate professor of drawing and bookmaking in the UAB Department of Art and Art History, will publish a book this fall, with exhibitions planned in Florida and Georgia.

DB HeadshotDoug Baulos. Photography: Aaron HeadArtist Douglas Baulos will use a $7,000 Verdant Fund grant for the project “Things shouldn’t be so hard,” which will include a book and seven large installation works. 

Baulos is an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, teaching drawing and bookmaking in the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History.

The award is part of more than $60,000 in grants given to nine Alabama artists. An expansion of the Warhol Foundation’s Regional Regranting program, the Verdant Fund supports creative practice born of and within Alabama. The fund’s goal is to reach a broad range of artists creating and presenting outward-facing, community-based projects across all geographic areas of the state. From a highly competitive group of applicants, projects were reviewed by a panel of professionals who made the selections. The recipients were announced in January.

Baulos will create a series of seven large works, and an accompanying catalog/workbook will navigate their interests in book structures, Alabama biodiversity, extinction of species and vulnerability risks among the LGBTQI community. The book is expected to be published late this year. The first exhibition featuring the installations will be at the Florida State Museum in Tallahassee, with several of the installations in The Swann Coach Art Gallery in August in Atlanta, Georgia.

About Baulos’ research, works and “Things shouldn’t be so hard”

Baulos’ drawings, collages and installations have been exhibited and published nationally and internationally. Their current works are visual explorations and poetic meditations centering on their ideas of spirituality, love, death, shelter and hope.

“I’ve been wanting to make a project about how I and many other queer and non-binary artists use the natural world to navigate difficult feelings and often are still much more prone to have mental illness issues and suicidal thoughts,” Baulos said.  

Baulos InsideWorks from Doug Baulos' Verdant Fund project “Things shouldn’t be so hard.” “When I thought about content for this new project, I knew I wanted to explore the idea of humble/small stories that, through repetition, pattern and texture, might have enormous impact on the viewer,” Baulos said. “Stories and books are so important to me because they are universal, establish our place in the world, aid us in acting wisely, help us to understand others, and pass down knowledge and morals.”

Baulos proposed a series of works that would be exhibited as separate bodies, literally and figuratively, and that would also be used to illustrate the catalog/workbook. The installations they make are places to sort ideas and information, but also function as a safe place for true and frank conversation about their identity and movement through the world, Baulos says.

How the works are created

“A consistent objective of my work is seeking to simultaneously link my outer experience in the natural world with the complicated feelings of my inner experience as a queer artist,” Baulos said. “I find creating paper, cloth and all materials from ‘scratch’ for most of my work allows me to create work that can confront problems that other types of materials’ sourcing might not be able to fully have space for my ideas and feelings.”

Most of the exhibited works will be created with handmade paper made from Alabama plants or found fibers from thrift and junk stores. The images and patterns may include naturally dyed fabric as well as many types of paper, both found and handmade. Indigo, walnut and green persimmon are the three major dyes Baulos plans to use. They are also excited to use recent experiments in experimental gum bichromate printing from lake pigments they make from their dye garden. 

“I hope to speak for the inanimate and underrepresented through observation and empathy,” Baulos said. “I find my own authenticity in the gravity of found objects and meditative interventions to deal with my own cultural agency. As I ask complicated questions about mortality, loss and spiritual meditation, I’m keenly aware of the weight and gravity of the topics I address. I use the warmth and familiarity and tactile nature of paper and cloth to make works with a deep sense of intimacy and reverence.”

Baulos Inisde 2Works from Doug Baulos' Verdant Fund project “Things shouldn’t be so hard.” Baulos says they hope the exhibition and workbook will create fascinating, but instructive and informative prompts into the difficult subject of suicide. 

About the Verdant Fund

Each Verdant Fund project will be tracked and documented over the course of the year; visit the website and its social media accounts for project updates.

“Although I have works in research collections, museums and libraries, this project would greatly affect the future of my career since I want to use images and text drawn from my own writings in a more significant way,” they said. “The workbook would be distributed publicly and be very public-facing and transparent.” 

The Regional Regranting program was established in 2007 to recognize and support the movement of independently organized, public-facing, artist-centered activity that animates local and regional art scenes but that lies beyond the reach of traditional funding sources. The program is administered by nonprofit visual art centers across the United States that work in partnership with the foundation to fund artists’ experimental projects and collaborative undertakings. The Verdant Fund is administered through a partnership between Coleman Center for the Arts in York, Alabama, the Alabama Contemporary Art Center in Mobile, and Space One Eleven in Birmingham.