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The University of Alabama

UA Gallery Opens in Cultural Arts Center with Asian Rug Exhibit

Turkish prayer kilim rug, c. 1925

Turkish prayer kilim, c. 1925

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.  — A new gallery space operated by The University of Alabama in downtown Tuscaloosa will hold its inaugural exhibit, “A Magic Carpet Ride: Rugs of the Ottoman Empire from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. William T. Price,” Aug. 29-Oct. 24.

The new gallery is located in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center at 620 Greensboro Ave., which will hold its grand opening Aug. 29.

The new gallery, managed by UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, will offer a year-round schedule of exhibitions of artistic works, artifacts, textiles and more from permanent collections held by UA, as well as works by faculty, students, and guest artists and designers.

“A Magic Carpet Ride” features 21 rugs from the Ottoman empire, most of which are from Anatolia, an area that today is part of modern-day Turkey. The region is noted for its many rug-making centers. After centuries of foreign incursions, the rugs draw inspiration from a variety of cultures in their designs.

Two of the Turkish rugs featured in the exhibit are from the 18th century, while the majority of them are from the 19th century. The items on display include both hand-knotted pile rugs and flat-woven rugs, as well as other textiles that display many kinds of techniques such as embroidery and applique, and they are made from a variety of materials that include wool, silk and metallic threads.

“These are all fabulous rugs that are visually stunning and make an interesting use of color,” said Dr. Catherine Pagani, chair of the art and art history department and the exhibit’s curator. “A good portion of them are prayer rugs, so they were used by people every day. The exhibit gives us an idea of the human relationship with these rugs.”

The Prices have amassed one of the finest collections of Asian art that includes works from South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Japan and India. It includes Japanese prints, screens and ceramics; Middle Eastern rugs; Islamic art; and numerous fine Asian sculptures and paintings. Portions of their collection have been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries in the United States.

William T. Price, a native of Tuscaloosa, began his life-long relationship with Asian art in 1953 while stationed in Japan with the U.S. Army Medical Corp. His first purchases were of Japanese woodblock prints. Those purchases ignited his interest in Japanese art and the Japanese language. He returned to the United States two years later with some 500 prints and a lasting love of art and collecting.

Price graduated in 1943 from The University of Alabama and received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University. Now retired, he practiced neurology and neurosurgery for 50 years in Amarillo, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Jimmie Dell. Price served on the board of directors of The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. for some 30 years.

The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center is managed and maintained by The Arts Council of Tuscaloosa.

Located in the former Allen & Jemison Warehouse Co. building, the project was initiated with a $1.5 million HUD section 108 loan awarded to the city of Tuscaloosa to renovate the structure. The Arts Council is charged with raising funds to complete the CAC, Tuscaloosa’s first cultural arts center. The center’s Aug. 29 grand opening coincides with the birthday of its namesake, Dinah Washington, who was a jazz and blues vocalist and pianist born in Tuscaloosa.

The University of Alabama Gallery is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except the first Friday of each month, when it will be open from noon-8 p.m. For more information about the gallery, phone 205/342-2060.

UA’s College of Arts and Sciences is 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,