Letter from the Director – Spring
Dear WMA Members and Friends,
WMA is a place to be inspired, to learn, and to gather as a community year-round. This quarter we are making meaningful connections through new exhibitions, programs, and initiatives that are bringing artists and ideas together, right here in the Wiregrass.
Last quarter I mentioned to you all that we were in various stages of planning for the second and third installments of our Bicentennial programs. In the summer of 2015, WMA committed to curating an exhibition for the Alabama Bicentennial along with the other major art museums in the state. Because our exhibition program already has a strong focus on showing Alabama artists, we decided to do three exhibitions, each representing the corresponding theme set by the state.
Last summer, you may remember our exhibition Museum of Wonder featuring work by Butch Anthony. To highlight the year’s theme of “Discovering our Places” we thought it appropriate for our first bicentennial-related exhibition to showcase one of the most unique places in Alabama; Butch’s built environment in Seale, Alabama complete with the original Museum of Wonder and the world famous drive-thru museum. As part of the exhibition, we built a museum inside the museum, commissioned Butch to build a mini drive-thru for 24/7 access to his art, and even posted billboards around town with intertwangled portraits of Wiregrass residents.
This April we will open the second installment in our bicentennial exhibition series titled Alabama Reckoner. This exhibition will include Doug Baulos’s 12 mixed media installations representing the portraits of Alabama artists, including a self-portrait. I learned about the portrait series in 2016 when we were working with Doug during the Made in Alabama group exhibition, and thought it would be an ideal collection of work to celebrate the 2018 state bicentennial theme, “Honoring Our People.”
During the exhibition, you will become acquainted with Doug’s thoughtful approach to material and process through the intricate details in each portrait. We’ve traveled to Birmingham, where Doug lives and works, throughout the last year to work on this project, conduct interviews, and meet with the artists that he has chosen to represent in these portraits. In addition to the portrait series, the museum will also be exhibiting selections of work from many of these artists, and information about the portraits and each artist will be available in person, and online through expanded labels, video interviews, and much more. I’m particularly proud of this exhibition, and the meaning behind it, as it highlights WMA’s commitment to showcase the work of Alabama artists, offering them a platform to tell their powerful, often personal, stories.
In June, the museum will debut its third and final installment of bicentennial projects, with a yearlong, public exhibition of sculpture. Conceptualized and crafted by a group of local creatives, Semiotic Compass/Sharing Our Stories, is a collaborative exhibition which will be the basis for corresponding public programs. The outdoor sculpture installation is inspired by concepts of communication, and a sense of place, encouraging conversation at the installation site and among the local and regional community.
WMA continues to be critical voice in the regional dialogue on contemporary art, and its role in our cities. By bringing together strategic partners and artist collectives we are able to shine a brighter light on the impact of arts and culture in the Wiregrass. I hope you all will join us in celebrating these exciting projects, and check our calendar for upcoming events and programs!
All the best,
Director and Curator