Ask Karen Dixon, Ph.D., to draw you a picture and she admits you’re likely not going to get much that dazzles you in return.
“I have a couple of aunts who are amazing artists,” says Dixon. “They’re painters and they can draw extremely well, but I can’t draw at all. I can’t even draw a stick man.”
|Karen Dixon’s “Dichro Maze” fused-glass sculpture was this year’s faculty winning entry in the School of Medicine Art Show.
Dixon, an assistant professor of neurobiology, has many other artistic talents, however. She began creating glass mosaics nine years ago and has become proficient at her craft, as is evidenced by the selection of her faculty entry as the winner in the annual School of Medicine Art Show. Her piece, “Dichro Maze,” created using fused glass, is on display with the other art show submissions in the museum on the third floor of the Lister Hill Library through May 22.
“I really began creating glass art pieces in 2000, so I’m relatively new to it,” Dixon says. “It’s become obsessive, really. I just can’t stop doing it.”
More than 65 entries from faculty, residents and medical students were entered in this year’s art show, which is presented by the Alabama chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha, the national honor society for medical school students, and the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences.
The show features myriad works including paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture. A panel of UAB faculty, staff and students judged the event. The top three winners in each category received cash prizes, and all entries are displayed in the museum.
“The opportunity for physicians and medical students to express themselves through art enhances their ability to interact with patients and families,” said Stephen R. Smith, Ph.D., director of student life for the medical school and a contest judge. “The art show provides another means to creatively explore and express their own humanity, reinforcing a pathway to help them connect with all people on a basic human level.”
Dixon says she always has been enamored with glass. Her mother had many cut glass and blown glass art pieces. Dixon collected some pieces for herself through the years before finally deciding she wanted to create something of her own.
“I think that comes from the scientist within me,” she says. “I thought, ‘Let me experiment with this and see what happens.’ I didn’t really know if I could create something. I just thought I’d give it a shot.”
Dixon began making different pieces including earrings and pendants. Then she started making bowls and platters.
She initially began making pieces for herself and family members, but her friends were so impressed with the creations that they were asking Dixon to make items for them.
“I started making things and giving them as gifts,” she says. “All of this has just really kind of blown up in the past year.”
Dixon did her first art show with the Alabama Designer Craftsman this past fall, selling her first items. “The first time you sell something it’s pretty exciting,” she says.
She had another show in March that also was a success. In fact, Dixon’s art career has blossomed to the point she is opening a glass gallery and studio at 111 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard between First and Second Avenue South in June.
“I’ll be teaching classes along with the woman who taught me how to create fused glass,” Dixon says. “We’ll also feature many local glass artists and their work in the gallery. There’s nobody that really carries the fusing glass locally, so we’ll also be selling that to the public. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to get started.”
Other winners in this year’s School of Medicine Art Show include: “Woman Combing Her Hair, After Degas,” a pastel on paper by second-year medical student Leslie Perry; an untitled pencil drawing by Alicia Vogt, M.D., in Obstetrics and Gynecology won first place in the resident competition.
In addition to Smith, the art submissions were judged by Brett Levine, director of the UAB Visual Arts Gallery; Stefanie Rookis, curator of the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences; and Virginia Radcliff, a fourth-year medical student and vice president of Alpha Omega Alpha.