SECAC is a national nonprofit organization devoted to education and research in the visual arts. More than 500 artists, art historians, designers, curators and educators will come together for 120 sessions focusing on a wide range of historical and contemporary topics, including art history, studio art, education, design and community engagement, while enjoying Birmingham’s unique vernacular, cuisine and style. Faculty and alumni of the UAB Department of Art and Art History will lead several of the conference sessions.
Conference sessions and off-site programming across the Magic City will include the 2018 Edward M. and Hermione C. Friend Lecture by Andrew Freear of Auburn University’s Rural Studio at the Birmingham Museum of Art on Oct. 18, and the 2017 SECAC Artist’s Fellowship and 2018 SECAC Juried exhibitions. The exhibitions will run Sept. 10-Oct. 19 in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences’ Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. The keynote and exhibitions, as well as a reception Oct. 19, are free and open to the public.
Works by Assistant Professor of Sculpture Stacey Holloway will be highlighted in the SECAC Artist’s Fellowship exhibition at UAB’s AEIVA. The SECAC Fellowship was established in 1981 to support member artists and to encourage individual creative growth‚ the development of new ideas for exhibitions and creative projects. A committee selects the recipient, who is awarded $5,000. Holloway won the 2017 award, which provided her with the opportunity to work with new materials and processes, and on a larger scale. The resulting exhibition, “Not to be Otherwise,” focuses on interspecies bonds and considers universal experiences of alienation, isolation and longing, Holloway says. In a surreal, immersive installation featuring a life-size bison and scores of porcelain rabbits, squirrels, birds and bees patterned with Blue Willow floral and arabesque patterns, the exhibition takes a topsy-turvy turn on the trope of the bull in a china shop.
Gary Chapman, and Assistant Professor Derek Cracco are included in the exhibition. Admission is free and open to the public. The exhibition was juried by Peter Baldaia, director of Curatorial Affairs at the Huntsville Museum of Art. A free closing reception will be from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, at AEIVA, and Baldaia will give brief remarks and present best-in-show awards in the gallery at 7 p.m.The 2018 SECAC Juried Exhibition will feature 55 works by 43 artists across all media, including painting, photography, printmaking, design, drawing, mixed media, sculpture, video and installation, Sept. 10-Oct. 19 at AEIVA. Works by DAAH Professor
Baldaia says, as a curator who has specialized in organizing exhibitions of contemporary art for more than 35 years, he welcomed the challenge of reviewing such a large and diverse group of material to create a showcase of current work from across the region and country.
“I was excited to discover great pieces by artists with whom I was not familiar, alongside some of the Southeast’s most recognizable talents,” Baldaia said. “I carefully considered the submissions in repeated viewing sessions that spanned several weeks, honing my selections to those that continued to engage my eye, mind and spirit. Some of the final selections are subtle and understated, while others possess an undeniable swagger. Overall, what I think unifies much of the exhibition is a palpable sense of dislocation, fracture and mystery, which is perhaps not surprising given the extraordinary times in which we find ourselves living.”
The 2018 Friend Lecture, co-sponsored by UAB, SECAC and the BMA, is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Birmingham Museum of Art. An installation built by the Rural Studio is currently on view at the BMA’s nationally recognized exhibition, “Third Space/Shifting Conversations about Contemporary Art.” Creating connections between the American South and Global South, “Third Space” features more than 100 works of art in a variety of media from the BMA’s permanent collection.
Freear, originally from Yorkshire, England, is the Wiatt Professor and director of Auburn University’s Rural Studio. Freear lives in a small rural community in Hale County in west Alabama, where for nearly two decades he has directed a program that questions the conventional education and role of architects. His architecture students have designed and built community buildings, homes and landscape projects for under-resourced local towns and nonprofit organizations. Freear’s role has been as liaison and advocate between local authorities, community partners and architecture students in the collaborative realization of projects such as the 40-acre Lions Park, Newbern Library, and Greensboro Boys and Girls Club, all of which have focused on the health, welfare and education of at-risk youth. Since 2006, his students have explored 22 prototypes toward the 20K Rural House initiative: a wood-frame, affordable, equity-building, site-built, locally sourced, contractor-realized alternative to the factory-built trailer.
Founded in 1942, SECAC provides advocacy and support for arts professionals and engenders opportunities for the exchange of scholarship and creative activities through an annual conference and publications. Though founded initially as an organization of artists, scholars and arts professionals from the Southeastern states, SECAC has grown to include individual and institutional members from across the United States and around the world, becoming the second-largest national organization of its kind. The conference regularly draws participants from the United States and other countries. Individuals who present their research or creative work at an annual conference gain national exposure for their work in the fields of studio art, art and architectural history, art education, museum studies, and visual resources. Membership is required to attend the conference.
Support for the 2018 SECAC Conference comes from UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences, AEIVA, BMA, and InBirmingham.
The Friend Lecture series was established in 2005 by Ellen Elsas and her husband Fred Elsas, M.D., in memory of Mrs. Elsas’s parents who were active supporters of the arts in the Birmingham community. With the objective to bring important and engaging speakers in the disciplines of art, art history and criticism to the UAB campus for the benefit of students and the community, the annual Friend lecture has featured such noted curators, critics and art historians as Robert Storr, Tom Eccles and Ivan Gaskell.
Faculty and alumni of the UAB Department of Art and Art History will lead several of the conference sessions:
Erin Wright will chair the session, “Art for Heart’s Sake: Graphic Design as Advocacy.”
Doug Barrett will chair the session, “Hey, Teach! Considering Contemporary Pedagogical Practices.”
Gary Chapman and adjunct Jenny Fine will co-chair a session, “The Un-Disciplined,” in which Fine will also present “Time as Material.”
Chapman will also present “Neither Abstract Or Real: But Everything In Between,” in the session “Representation amidst Abstraction: A Look at Contemporary Painting that Utilizes Both Representational and Non-Representational Aspects.”
Elisabeth Pellathy will present “Visualized Birdsongs” in the session “Portamento: Music, Visual Arts, and the Liminal Space Between.”
Doug Baulos will present “Bio Remediation in Art & Extinction,” in a session titled “Natural Response: Metaphor, Narrative, and Interpretation.”
Adjunct art history professor Leigh Anne Roach will give a paper, “Patterns, Perception and Pedagogy in Bridget Riley’s Early Work” during a session titled “Innovation & Experimentation: 1950s to the Present.”
Stacey Holloway will present “Not to be Otherwise” in the session “The Art of Making” by Recipients of the SECAC Artist's Fellowship and SECAC Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement (2013-2017).
UAB alumna Melissa Yes will present “DIY Cinema as Art Foundations” in “The Role of the Hand in Contemporary Technologies: The Pedagogies of Teaching Artists.”
UAB student Devin Lunsford’s work will be the subject of a paper, “Roaming in the South: Devin Lunsford’s Photographs from the Roadside,” given by independent scholar Peter Han-Chih Wang, Ph.D., in a session titled “’Little of Artistic Merit?’ The Art of the American South.”