By on January 23, 2014
Photo Credit: UAB

A cascade of multi-colored lights lit up the corner of 13th Street South and 10th Avenue South last week from the glass windows of Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts (AEIVA).

After over two years of construction, AEIVA opened its doors to the public for the first time to showcase works gathered from the UAB Permanent Art Collection and Birmingham art collectors in the exhibition “Material Evidence: Art in Search of Representation and Identity.” “Material Evidence” is curated by Birmingham Museum of Art and is free and open to the public January 16-March 6.

The UAB Department of Art and Art History, the CAS Dean’s office, and friends of UAB—some dating back to UAB’s old School of Arts and Humanities—carefully, strategically and artistically planned the facility. AEIVA is named after Hal and Judy Abroms and Ruth and Marvin Engel for their substantial contributions to the building.

The 26,000-square-feet angular building features modern touches of zinc, glass, and red brick that compliment the UAB material and color palette. An outdoor sculpture garden will accent the building and welcome patrons into the lobby.

Inside AEIVA are three spacious, white-walled art galleries that feature professional works as well as exhibitions from the UAB Department of Art and Art History. AEIVA is equipped with security staff and environmental control systems that protect artwork from humidity, UV exposure, and temperature. The second floor of the building is reserved for classrooms, and office spaces for the UAB Department of Art and Art History.

In an e-mail sent out last week by President Ray Watts, he applauded “All that collective effort, determination and imagination over the years has forged this Institute which reflects UAB’s spirit of innovation in both form and function.”

President Watts aspires for the building to attract emerging artists from around the world to UAB, offer new and innovative educational opportunities, showcase student and faculty work to a broader audience, and provide a venue for the visual arts and cultural events in Birmingham.

AEIVA was originally intended as a fine arts facility that would enhance the professional and educational capabilities of UAB’s Department of Art and Art History. However, the state-of-the art building became something much more.

“It quickly became obvious that the AEIVA would also be poised to fill an important roll for the greater Birmingham art community as well,” said John Fields, Curator of the UAB Permanent Collection. “The AEIVA is an academic institution dedicated to the advancement and promotion of the visual arts. The ability to present exhibitions of the highest historical significance, cutting edge contemporary artists at the top of their field and works by emerging/student artists makes the AEIVA a unique exhibition space in Birmingham.”

In an interview with UAB News, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert Palazzo, Ph.D., said, “The Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts will not only serve students, but the public as well, and it will be a regional and national destination for those seeking to experience world-class art. As the Alys Stephens Center has provided the premier venue for cultural entertainment, the AEIVA will provide that type of venue for fine art, all on the campus of a Carnegie-rated Research University.”

Lenders to “Material Evidence” include Margaret and Bruce Alexander, Catherine and Bill Cabaniss, Lydia Cheney and Jim Sokol, Charlsie and Ralph Cook, Carnetta and Norm Davis, Rebecca and Jack Drake, Ellen and Fred Elsas, Beverly and Stanley Erdreich, John Hagefstration, Barbara and Basil Hirschowitz, Dick Jemison, John Morton, Karen and Joel Piassick, Nancy and John Poyner, Leslie and Elton Stephens Jr., Michael Straus, and Carolyn Wade.

“Right now, our main focus for the AEIVA is establishing the newly-built institute as a world-class fine arts exhibition space with a reputation for producing exciting, bold and relevant art exhibits,” said Fields.

AEIVA has two student exhibitions scheduled for 2014. Students who have been enrolled in an art course over the past two years may submit to the “Juried Student Annual Exhibition.” This year’s juror, renowned artist George Ferarndi, will select works to be featured in the exhibition. Students seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree that have completed the program must mount and exhibit their work in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition.

“Having these exhibits at the AEIVA will bring a higher level of exposure to our students as well as raise the already high standards of excellence we place on our graduating BFA students,” said Fields.

Below is AEIVA’s 2014 Exhibition Schedule:
• January 16-March 6: Material Evidence: Art in Search of Representation and Identity (Curated by the Birmingham Museum of Art)
• March 19-April 18: 38th Annual UAB Department of Art and Art History Student “Juried Exhibition”; George Ferrandi: “The Prosthetics of Joy”
• April 30-May 22: “Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition”
• June 5-July 17: Leslie Wayne: “Mind the Gap”; “Objects of Authority: Embroideries and other Contemporary Arts from Western India”; and “After ‘Sosaku Hanga': Creativity and Modernity in Japanese Prints of the 1960s and 1970s.”
• August 11-September 22: Interlude/Influence: Faculty and Alumni at Work; A Seat at the Big Table: Bloom Studio
• August 29-September 5: Amanda Browder: “Magic Chromacity”
AEIVA’s hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 12-6 p.m. All AEIVA exhibitions are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB
Photo Credit: UAB

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