Graduating art senior Samantha Richardson’s skills land awards, start in agency career

Class of 2017 option 2During her undergraduate experience at UAB, her creative design research focused on building awareness about underprivileged communities in the city. She works with Cayenne Creative.
Read more stories about UAB's spring graduates on our Class of 2017 page.

samantha richardson posterFrom Samantha Richardson's design research project on Birmingham's Fountain Height's community.Samantha Richardson of Pinson will graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham on April 29, and she is already working with one of the city’s leading design agencies.

Richardson is graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a minor in art history from the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History, with a concentration in graphic design and animation, and is also in the Honors College’s University Honors Program. She is a freelance motion designer at Cayenne Creative, creating graphics for social media, designing print materials and producing videos for clients. Richardson has worked on social media and print accounts including Milo’s Hamburgers, Railroad Park, Altec, Protective Life Insurance and Birmingham Orthodontics, among others.

She is one of 17 students whose works are featured in the Department of Art and Art History’s Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibition April 24-May 6, with a free opening reception from 6-8 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the CAS Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. On March 31, she was awarded a 2017 Student Award for Excellence by the department during the 41st Juried Annual Exhibition reception.

During her undergraduate experience at UAB, her research focused on creating awareness about underprivileged communities in the city. In the spring of her freshman year, she co-directed “Another Day in the Neighborhood,” a documentary about two public housing communities impacted by poor conditions. In her junior year, she worked on a branding campaign for the Foot Soldiers, a civil rights activist group aiming to establish itself as an information center in the Fourth Avenue business district. 

Richardson spent a semester last year in the Department of Art and Art History’s BLOOM Studio doing initial research on the Fountain Heights neighborhood, and spent another semester creating her design work in response to her research.

“I was initially interested in the area’s rich history as an entertainment district and a birthplace of the civil rights movement,” Richardson said. “When I learned about the underserved community just north of the highway, I became fascinated by their story. I drained the internet of everything I could find, including UAB Professor Pamela King’s research, as well as ‘Blocked,’ a documentary produced last semester by UAB students Susanna Swanson and Amber Pope. I’ve spent the past several months visiting the community center and local church, interviewing and photographing residents.”

Her work for the BFA exhibition features a 50-page publication, which tells the story of the community and their experience in the city over the last 50 years as one of Birmingham’s first desegregated neighborhoods. Once a safe haven for first-generation black homeowners, today Fountain Heights is blocked off by two of the city’s busiest interstates, and many of its homes are marked by vacancy and disrepair.

samantha richardsonSamantha RichardsonJacques Lovejoy was among the third-generation residents she interviewed, struggling to preserve her home after her roof was destroyed during a storm. The recent expansion of the I-20/59 interstate has further alienated the community, including 82-year-old resident Aretha Shinnery, who struggles to commute through detours, and who fears for her community’s preservation. The BFA show features many more residents’ stories that convey a sense of urgency about the importance of preserving the community before it is too late.

The yearlong project she undertook was amazing, says BLOOM Studio Director Doug Barrett, MFA.

“Sam is an honor student, a hard worker, very smart, and very interested in using art and design for community engagement,” Barrett said.

Richardson was a 2015-2016 media fellow at UAB Digital Media, where she was a lead animator for “Know Dope,” an award-winning heroin prevention campaign funded by U.S. District Attorney Joyce Vance. “Know Dope” received Best in Show at the 2016 Birmingham American Advertising Awards and a Gold Addy in Animation.

samantha richardson FHRichardson recently won a 2017 Gold Addy award for a Milo’s animation she did at Cayenne, in the Microsite/Social Media/Single Execution category for “Milo’s Fry High Dive.”

Through the University Honors Program, she was able to attend conferences including the Denver 2014 National Collegiate Honors Council, Greenville 2015 Southern Regional Honors Council, Chicago 2015 National Collegiate Honors Council, Orlando 2016 Southern Regional Honors Council and the Seattle 2016 National Collegiate Honors Council.

Richardson also was the 2015-2016 editor-in-chief of Sanctuary Literary Magazine, designing annual journals on behalf of the University Honors Program and the Southern Regional Honors Council.

“I want my design to represent the communities that I work in,” Richardson wrote in her artist’s statement. “Design has the power to promote local culture and social justice through its universal appeal.”

Explore more of her work at