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The University of Alabama

UA’s Paul Jones Gallery of Art to Open ‘Identity Lessons’

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — An exhibition of works curated by art students at The University of Alabama will open at The Paul R. Jones Gallery of Art in downtown Tuscaloosa Dec. 3.

“Identity Lessons” will showcase works from the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama, chosen by more than 200 UA students enrolled in the course “Introduction to Fine Arts.”

An opening reception will be held at the Paul R. Jones Gallery Thursday, Dec. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The exhibit will be on display until Dec.17.

According to Dr. Lucy Curzon, director of education and outreach for the collection, the exhibition sets a unique precedent for student involvement with the collection. The 200 students who participated in curating the exhibit did so in large part through online interactions, including the use of discussion boards, surveys and document sharing.

Students were divided into groups of 10 or 12, and each group was asked to investigate works in the collection. Around these chosen works, each group shaped an exhibition and devised a curatorial statement. Each group’s statement was collaboratively evaluated by the class using electronic methods. The resulting exhibition, “Identity Lessons,” reflects the two winning curatorial statements as determined by the class.

“As a collaborative exercise and an exhibition, ‘Identity Lessons,’ fulfills Mr. Jones’ wish that the collection he gifted to this university be used for teaching purposes; in short, for ‘starting conversations,’ as he once said, between diverse groups of people,” said Curzon.

The gallery honors the late Paul R. Jones who, during his lifetime, amassed one of the largest collections of African-American art in the world. In 2008, Jones donated 1,700 pieces of his collection, valued at $4.8 million, to UA. Jones was known as a passionate collector who sought to collect from both well-known and lesser-known artists, a quality which makes his collection distinct.

The Paul R. Jones Gallery is located at 2308 6th St. in downtown Tuscaloosa. Gallery hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. The gallery is managed by the department of art and art history in The University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Kelli Wright, communications specialist, College of Arts and Sciences, 205/348-8539,
  • SOURCE: Lucy Curzon, assistant professor and director of education and outreach for the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art,