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Birmingham Art Museum rotates new contemporary works through ‘Third Space’

The work of Derrick Adams reflects black images from the media

By Ariel Worthy  

The Birmingham Times 

The work of Derrick Adams reflects stereotypes of black images from television

The Birmingham Museum of Art will unveil a new rotation of artwork on Sat. Aug. 12 in its contemporary art exhibition Third Space. 

The two-year exhibition introduces 27 new works of art to the three-room, 6,500 square foot gallery.  

“Rotations in general allow us to swap in and swap out the gallery,” said Dr. Emily Hanna, senior curator at the BMA. “Certain things are light-sensitive. They can only spend a certain amount of time in the light and then they go back in the dark and rest, or they would fade; photographs, any works on paper, things with fabric in them.”   

Third Space is the first major exhibition of contemporary art from the museum’s own collection. It brings together the work of more than 90 artists from around the world and explores a shared cultural experience between the American South and the Global South.  

Drawn almost entirely from the BMA’s permanent collection, the two-year exhibition features over 100 works of art in a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and videos.  

“Third Space is a representation of the ways in which the Birmingham Museum of Art’s collection of contemporary art has grown in breadth and depth over the past couple of decades,” said Gail Andrews, R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art. “The exhibition is designed to be a dynamic experience that visitors will want to enjoy again and again, so the four rotations not only allow visitors to access even more of our collection of contemporary art, but the refreshed galleries will offer new perspectives on the exhibition’s themes and ideas.”  

The new rotation replaces 16 works of art and consists largely of works on paper including a mixed media collage by Derrick Adams; a watercolor painting by Thornton Dial; photographs by William Christenberry; photographs by Gordon Parks; and a lithograph by Tabaimo.  

Adams, whose art depicts the stereotype of African-Americans on TV, is well-known in the contemporary art world. His work can be seen on HBO’s Insecure, and has been highlighted by Beyonce, her mother and sister.  

Third Space is the first time the museum has devoted a large amount of room to their contemporary collection.  

“We have more patrons interested in contemporary art than any other group,” Hanna said. “They donate money, they donate art and they want to see the things they’ve given over the many years on the wall. I think young people are also really drawn to the subject matter of contemporary art. It’s about their realities and their lives and the complexity of it.”  

Visitors are able to learn more about works in the exhibition through the BMA’s Smart Guide, where they can listen to different perspectives on selected works of art provided by voices of the Birmingham community.