Derek Cracco relishes the opportunity to sell the virtues of the Department of Art & Art History. The department’s talent, facilities and Birmingham’s rich cultural resources provide the three foundations for his pitch.
“We are one of the more well-equipped art departments in the state,” Cracco says, “and we have many things to offer that other schools in Alabama don’t have. We have an urban environment, closer proximity to galleries, museum and cultural events. That’s a cornerstone and a key issue for art departments — providing exposure to the arts. We certainly have that here at UAB, including faculty engaged in their own careers and research, which I think is a benefit to us. They’re still actively pursuing their artistic careers, which I think is exciting to prospective students.”
|Art Professor Derek Cracco shows Spain Park High School students how to create prints on the intaglio press in the department’s print-making studio.
Cracco shared those virtues during a recent workshop in which Spain Park High School students created prints on the intaglio presses in the department’s print-making studio. The students also were given demonstrations on Xerox transfers, chincolet and mono printing techniques.
The field trip gave the students hands-on experience in making collograph prints and highlighted many opportunities available in art and art history.
Cracco says getting the students to visit campus and engage in a learning experience is a valuable recruiting tool.
“This gives them an idea of what to expect when they get here. I’ve found that this is a much better format than just going to schools and lecturing,” he says. “The moment you turned the lights off and turned on a slide projector it was like bedtime. Inviting them here for hands-on instruction is a way to get them more engaged. It’s a proactive approach to recruiting.”
The 13 students worked for two weeks in their high-school art class to craft the plates they used to create prints in UAB’s studio.
The process is complex. The plates are made by gluing objects to a cardboard surface. Those objects create textures that hold inks. They are then inked, wiped and run through a press to create an image on paper.
Most high schools don’t have the equipment to conduct these kinds of projects, Cracco says.
Erik Myers, chair of Spain Park’s digital photography department and a two-time UAB graduate, has brought his students to similar workshops. He says the opportunity is invaluable in helping his students determine their career path, and it showcases the tools and talent UAB has to help make them successful.
“A project like this is just fantastic for our students,” Myers says. “We have ceramics, painting and things like that, but we don’t have the capabilities to do print-making. This enables our students to gain valuable experience in a field they may have an interest in pursuing.”
The Department of Art & Art History offers ceramics, drawing, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, art history and art education. The department recently added video and time-based animation to its lineup as well.
The Visual Arts Gallery, a key component of the program, showcases a continuously changing series of exhibitions of contemporary art and a permanent collection of more than 500 works across a range of disciplines. The department works closely with the Birmingham Museum of Art and Space One Eleven, among others, to offer internships and collaborative projects. It also features a number of collaborative projects, including a documentary film course, and study opportunities in the southwestern United States and New York City.
Prospective freshman can apply for one of three $2,500 scholarships to be given away this spring. The deadline for application is Feb. 4. Visit www.uab.edu/art/ to apply or learn more about the department.