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The University of Alabama

Artist and Long-time UA Professor Emeritus Alvin Sella Dies

Professor Emeritus Al Sella

Professor Emeritus Al Sella

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Professor Emeritus Alvin “Al” Sella, acclaimed artist and long-time faculty member in the department of art and art history at The University of Alabama, died April 8 at Hospice of West Alabama.

He was 93.

Sella retired from UA’s department of art and art history in 1996 after a distinguished 35-year career. He continued to teach, by popular demand, until 2010. Known by many as a consummate educator and accomplished artist, Sella influenced thousands of students during his life.

Born in West Hoboken, New Jersey, Sella studied art at the Yale School of Fine Arts, Art Students League of New York, Columbia University School of Arts, Syracuse University College of Fine Arts, University of New Mexico department of art and, independently, in Mexico.

He spent his early career studying and painting in Mexico, before accepting a position as artist-in-residence at Sullins College in Bristol, Va., where he later served as head of the department of art. He joined the UA faculty in 1960, where he taught painting and drawing.

Sella had numerous solo exhibitions throughout his career. His work appeared in the Contemporary Art Gallery in New York City; Collectors of American Art in New York City; the Carroll Knight Gallery in St. Louis, Mo.; and over 20 other galleries. His work also appeared in over 200 group shows. Sella’s paintings are held in more than 20 private collections as well as the corporate collections of Hinton Properties and Kovach Industries International. Sella was also affiliated with the Frank Fedele Gallery in New York City.

He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Artist Award from the Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham. In 1999, The University of Alabama Society for the Fine Arts awarded Sella its Distinguished Arts Career Award. In 2009, the Alabama State Council on the Arts awarded him the Governor’s Arts Award.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Maria Zavala Sella; his parents, Joseph and Mary Aimone Sella; and his brother, Eugene Sella. He is survived by his three sons, David Anthony Sella (Karen Lawson), Alvin Michael Sella (Mary Lyle), and Nicholas Eugene Sella (Mary Alves); and two grandchildren, Nicholas Eugene Sella Jr. and Anna Kathryn Sella.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 13 at 2 p.m. at St. Francis University Church. Burial will follow in Tuscaloosa Memorial Park. Visitation will be one hour prior to services at the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alvin C. Sella and Joseph Sella Endowed Scholarship Fund at The University of Alabama, Hospice of West Alabama, or the Humane Society.

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, khwright@as.ua.edu