AEIVAPhoto by Hannah Warren/ Staff photographer

Visit a Blast from the Past with AEIVA


Community members reflect on UAB's new art exhibit


Hannah Richey
Contributing Reporter 


Unfolding UAB: 50 Years of Photography from the UAB Archives opened October 21 in the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. The photo series exhibits over 80 photographs from the UAB archives starting from the opening of the Birmingham Extension Center to present.


The series documents how UAB became its own institution through expansion in downtown Birmingham and how the student body grew into the school and Birmingham community.


One of the photos in the series shows the Southside neighborhood in 1957 when it was still housing. The photo highlights the displacement of lower-income families due to the expansion of UAB.


John Fields, an alumnus of UAB who graduated in 2003 with a degree in studio art and now senior director of the AEIVA, said it’s important for UAB students and alumni to remember that the expansion of UAB did displace people and that history needs to be recognized.Fields also said the photo series is comprehensive despite only being confined to one room.


“It feels a lot more like an actual campus than it did back then,” Fields said. “Now I feel like it’s more cohesive.”


Current students can see how the students before them registered for classes, celebrated homecoming and studied in the library, among other common practices.


Rose Reyes, a recently accepted student said they were excited to see the photographs because of the process that goes into developing film.


“There’s something very humbling about it in a way,” Reyes said. “You spend more time caring for the photo.”


Christine Loran, an alumna of UAB who graduated in 1991 said UAB has seen tremendous changes throughout its time.


“The green spaces are everywhere now,” Loran said. “Campus is very well marked now, and the ends of campus are well lit.”


Loran said that the feel of campus has become much brighter and happier.


UAB has been recognized for prioritizing green spaces on its campus by the National Arbor Day Foundation.


Kelly Schiff, a UAB graduate and staff member of 22 years said the shift has been a drastic but considerably easy adjustment.


“It’s all been good change,” Schiff said. “The things that amaze me the most are the years before I came to Birmingham like the buildings and streets.” 


Students today might be interested to see the photo of a student looking at a paper course catalog while making her course selections, which is probably unfamiliar to students now.

Watson Magoo, a UAB alumnus who graduated with a degree in Art History in 2015, said the shift he’s seen is in how the AEIVA has changed the art scene in Birmingham.


“I really believe the AEIVA has changed how Birmingham exhibits art,” Magoo said. “It’s a mirror space for art to be exhibited and I love that.”


The Unfolding UAB exhibit will be open until December 14 in the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts located on campus.