Birmingham Museum of Art SHIFT residency project
(select works)

For five months in early 2016, SHIFT occupied the ground floor storefront at 1910 3rd Ave. N in Birmingham’s Theatre and Arts District. A Birmingham Museum of Art initiative, SHIFT was a satellite space that functioned as a platform for conversations around contemporary art and aimed to engage contemporary Birmingham artists in non-traditional ways.

Each month SHIFT invited two people to host, occupy, and activate the satellite space. Hosts included Birmingham-based artists and creatives who worked together to present a project to the public on the last Friday of each month. SHIFT’s collaborative nature encouraged hosts to push outside their creative comfort zone and create opportunities to consider new ideas and concepts that would resound with the larger Birmingham community. SHIFT also included a zine makerspace, stocked with supplies and featuring a selection from the Birmingham Zine Library.

Together with my co-host, improvisational musician LaDonna Smith, we considered the improvisational qualities of collaboration and invited members from our respective artistic communities to work with us to create Tangent, a single-night event that incorporated spoken word, improvisational music, and sound performances within an immersive photographic installation featuring works from ten Birmingham photographers.  

The cohort of photographers included established photographic artists, commercial and editorial professionals, as well as several of my students from UAB. The photographers were tasked to document the geographic space between the Birmingham Museum of Art and the BMA’s downtown SHIFT space throughout the month of May. Participants could pursue their own subject matter or work from a provided list of prompts. The result is a widely-varied body of work that does not comprehensively document Birmingham’s downtown; instead through aggregation, selection, editing, and exhibition the pictures of people, monuments, landscapes, architecture, and detritus provide nuanced social, cultural, and aesthetic subtexts. In addition to the installation of selected works in the SHIFT space, participants’ photographs were shared to the SHIFT Instagram feed @shiftbham.  
Participating photographers:
Rob Culpepper
Jenny Fine
Wes Frazer
Timothy Harstvedt
Devin Lunsford

C.W. Newell
Cary Norton
Carolyn Sherer
Orlando Thompson
Leita Turner






In addition to the collaborative works with Smith and the cohort of local photographers and musicians we gathered, I also created a series of collages made from leftover images and scraps found in the zine makerspace.  Together titled BABEL, the collages work as a kind of “blind” collaboration and address the inherent miscues and miscommunication that can occur during creative partnerships.

1. Now the whole world had one language and a common speech... 3 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 4 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 5 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 6 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
Book of Genesis, Chapter 11