Paul R. Jones Museum

Constructed Complexity: Assemblage and Collage in the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art

The Paul R. Jones Museum is excited to announce the opening exhibition of the fall season, Constructed Complexity: Assemblage and Collage in the Paul R. Jones Collection of Shades of Blue by Selma Glass, 1995American Art. Works by artists Amalia Amaki, Benny Andrews, Joy Ballard-Peters, Hans Bhalla, Allan L. Edmunds, Selma Glass, Sam Gilliam, John T. Riddle Jr., and Molly Brooke Threadgill, among others, will be on view from First Friday, August 6 through September 24, 2021, with a First Friday reception on September 3, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition is curated by Emily Bibb, curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama.

Curator’s statement: Assemblages and collages are artworks constructed from recontextualized materials. In Constructed Complexity, the artists of these works selected from the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art use well-known objects such as magazine clippings, cigar boxes, buttons and mass-produced textiles to produce pieces that create new meaning. Repurposing the familiar as raw material by altering, twisting, de- and reconstructing, these artists construct complex works of art layered with history and meaning. Using and reusing found materials, the artists create homages to family, history and domestic life. They paint with fabric, appliqueing textiles into vibrant collages that draw on the long tradition of quilt-making and imagine scenes from worlds just a little separate from our own. These techniques assemble materials with disparate origins into harmonious expressions of artistic intent. Grouping these artworks together allows us to look at the similarities and differences in materials and technique, constructing a larger conversation about how artists conceptualize, interpret and reframe the world around them through their work. – Emily Bibb

Director’s statement: Collage, as an art form, was an early 20th-century invention. For perhaps the first time, artists were creating art using non-traditional materials and imagery. While this method of creating art was short-lived in western European movements like Cubism and Dada, it was wholeheartedly embraced by later Black artists working in America, such as Benny Andrews and Sam Gilliam in this exhibition. Perhaps because of its ready accessibility as source material, or the freedom it allowed in expressing one’s ideas politically, the Harlem Renaissance benefited greatly from artists working in collage. Constructed Complexity allows us the occasion to feature collage as the common thread in the presented work and showcases its importance as an art form. – Daniel White


Image credit: Selma Glass, “Shades of Blue,” 1995, mixed media on paper, Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama, PJ2008.0249.[/

The Paul R. Jones Museum is an essential part of the education and development of UA students and our community. Admission to the gallery is free. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and on the First Friday of the month, 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Call the museum at (205) 345-3038 or email the director for more information. The Paul R. Jones Museum is located at 2308 Sixth Street, in downtown Tuscaloosa, one block from the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center.

For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in art history and studio art, visit our Degree Programs page.