Student Portfolio: the BMA Jemison galleries scale model

UAB College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Art & Art Hostory Assistant Professor of Sculpture Stacey Holloway, MFA, has worked with UAB DAAH BFA students Katelyn Ledford and Bryce Martinez in the construction of the model. It was commissioned by the BMA’s Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wassan Al-Khudhairi.

Third Space,” which will open to the public Jan. 29, is the first large exhibition of contemporary art from the museum’s own collection and highlights more than 100 works of art including paintings, sculpture, photography and video.

“The exhibition creates connections between the American South and other parts of the world using contemporary art, and the model was integral in my decision-making process of how to best utilize the gallery space, where to construct walls, and specifically where each work of art would be installed,” said Al-Khudhairi.

Holloway, Ledford and Martinez began the construction of the maquette in July 2015 and worked together for more than six months. The team began with blueprints of the space, took on-site measurements and worked with BMA staff and UAB architect Christopher Faulkner to make sure each detail was considered.

The maquette is constructed from high quality plywood, sheet metal, wood laminate and model plastic and comes equipped with its own cart for easy transportation and storage and a built-in drawer for storage of its magnetized, modular components. Movable walls and highly detailed miniature pedestals, vitrine, and benches were also included.

In her classroom and through projects like the BMA maquette, Holloway positions herself as a guide to her students as they discover their own ideas and artistic voice while also mastering sculptural materials and processes through hands-on experience and problem solving.

“This was a great project because we learned so much about architectural scale models,” Holloway said. “As artists, we are always making quick maquettes out of raw materials to help us with our ideas for larger sculptural works, but this had to be of a very durable, professional quality so that it will last for many years. Al-Khudhairi and her fellow curators had very specific functional requirements for the model, and it was a positive, challenging learning experience for us to research and engineer the components so they could meet their specific, long term needs.”

In addition to using the maquette to plan the “Third Space” exhibition, Al-Khudhairi is able to move the model around the building and use it as a tool to talk to colleagues and patrons about what she is hoping the exhibition will achieve.”

“I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to organize this exhibition without having this model; it’s an essential tool for a curator,” said Al-Khudhairi.

The model was shared with BMA patrons during a special “hard hat” exhibition preview of the “Third Space” show and will be used by other museum curators in the planning of future BMA exhibitions. “Third Space /Shifting Conversations about Contemporary Art” is a two-year exhibition that brings together the work of more than 90 international artists to explore connections of a shared cultural experience between the American South and the Global South. Beyond geographical boundaries, the American and Global South similarly represent marginalized people and places that share common post-colonial heritage, similar patterns of migration, and cultural connections. The exhibition examines the Global South from the perspective of the American South by working through a series of ideas that include: migration, diaspora, and exile; gaze, agency, and representation; the spirit, nature, and the landscape; and traditions, histories, and memory.

A BMA members opening party is planned for Jan. 27; admission is free for members and $25 for the general public. For more information visit the Birmingham Museum of Art website, artsbma.org.