New photographic artworks display student creativity, diversity on UAB campus

Works by UAB Department of Art and Art History photography students are now showcased in UAB’s Heritage Hall.

IsmailAla Ismail, "(And) Her Name is Palestine," 2015; archival pigment print
Works by seven University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History photography students are on display on the first and fifth floors of UAB’s Heritage Hall. The 18 large-scale photographs were made in response to two studio lighting assignments given during recent Light Capture courses taught by Professor of Photography Sonja Rieger, MFA.

“The class is what I consider the keystone to the photography program,” Rieger said. “It teaches students to really understand light. Although students work in the studio for the majority of the class, they gain an enormous appreciation of the power of natural light as well.”

Included in the display are a group of active portraits, pictures that contain a sense of dynamism and may include interpretations of motion through the use of flying and jumping or wind and water. While working on the assignment, students researched works by artists and commercial photographers like Lois Greenfield, who for decades photographed the New York experimental dance movement scene for the Village Voice.

Other works featured in Heritage Hall are taken from a portrait lighting assignment for which students use various lighting styles including broad, short, butterfly, clamshell and Rembrandt techniques.

“Through this assignment, I challenge students to make a portrait that is not just technically effective, but one that also enters into an engaging aesthetic dialogue,” Rieger said.

This has been a wonderful project because it has been a priority to infuse CAS buildings with students’ presence and artistry, says Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Robert E. Palazzo, Ph.D.

“Displaying these photographs communicates that we are a diverse and talented community, and displays the creativity of our students,” Palazzo said. “Our current and prospective students can see themselves reflected in the faces of their peers as they move through the lobby of Heritage Hall. They can see our inclusiveness, our creativity, our good will and our lighthearted sense of fun.”

Participating photographers are Erin Croxton of Montgomery; Amber Nicole Gomez of Birmingham; Ala Majed Ismail of Tulkarm, Palestine; Hua Perry of Hunan Province, China; Daniel Senko of West Palm Beach, Florida; Leita Turner of Pinson; and Laura Wilkerson (UAB class of 2015) of Montgomery.

For more information on the Department of Art and Art History photography area, visit or email

Pictured on previous page:  Laura Wilkerson, "Painted Portrait: Matthew II;" archival pigment print.