“There is such disconnect between contemporary visual art and the typical American family. I was in college before I even knew that being an artist could mean something beyond being a graphic designer or a television animator. I think the only way to bridge that gap is to make contemporary art (which can be quite challenging) more available and accessible to a younger audience.”
Name: John Fields
Occupation: Curator for the Abroms//Engel Institute for the Visual Arts
Creative Industry: Culture & Heritage / Visual Arts & Crafts
1. What does Creative Birmingham mean to you?
I think Creative Birmingham has concisely identified so many of the challenges the arts communities in Birmingham face. One of the biggest challenges with Birmingham’s visual arts scene is that there isn’t a steady influx of new young artists like you see in many larger cities. And most of our talented young BFA students leave town once they graduate. Attracting new talent and keeping the great ones we already have will be vital to the development of the visual arts in Birmingham. This will only happen through creative partnerships that help provide opportunities to those artists who choose to call Birmingham their home.
2. What would you like to see happen in Birmingham in the next 5 years?
I would like to see Birmingham recognized as a significant regional, if not national, destination for contemporary visual arts.
3. What does the future look like for AEIVA? (future exhibits, workshops, lectures, etc.)
There is always an exciting lecture or event happening at AEIVA and we are currently working on exhibition programming all the way through 2018! We have several exciting exhibitions on the horizon including solo exhibitions by Willie Cole, David Maisel, Luizs Cruz Azaceta ,Trenton Doyle Hancock and so many more. These artists are major players in the contemporary art world and we are thrilled to bring them to Birmingham, many of them for the first time. The best way to keep up is to check out our website, follow us on Facebook, or shoot us an email and ask to be put on our mailing list.
4. The AEIVA Permanent Collection has just expanded by 9 Andy Warhol Prints. Can you give us a little more information about this? What else is in the permanent collection?
In addition to the 9 prints, 150 photographic Warhol works were gifted to us in 2008. In 2013, the Andy Warhol Foundation gifted prints to museums across North America from the thousands of works left behind by Warhol. UAB was very fortunate to be the recipient of 9 iconic Warhol, silkscreen prints. This gift was the catalyst for the mounting of our latest exhibition Warhol: Fabricated, which closes Saturday, Feb. 28. Warhol: Fabricated has been the most-attended exhibition ever at UAB and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
5. The arts are an integral piece of education. What role would you like to see UAB play in arts education for k-12?
There is such disconnect between contemporary visual art and the typical American family. I was in college before I even knew that being an artist could mean something beyond being a graphic designer or a television animator. I think the only way to bridge that gap is to make contemporary art (which can be quite challenging) more available and accessible to a younger audience. UAB has a great track record with engaging young students interested in the visual arts through ArtPlay, the Department of Art and Art History, AEIVA and so many others. We will certainly continue to improve our community outreach and introduce the visual arts to those who otherwise would have little or no exposure. The more our children grow up in an environment seeped in the arts, the more likely they are to recognize its value down the road.
6. What advice to you have for young artists in Birmingham?
It’s simply not enough to sit in your studio painting away while waiting to be discovered. You have to become pro-active and find a way to make yourself relevant and integral to the art community. This town is small enough that if something great happens for one of us, it benefits us all. It’s about being genuinely invested in the success of ALL Birmingham artists and doing your part to enable, expand and improve the community that nurtures and supports them.