MMFA Hosts Symposium Commemorating Alabama's Bicentennial

The public is invited to attend Bearing Witness: Art of Alabama, a gathering of art, history, and other experts from universities, museums, and organizations across the state and nation who will join with fellow professionals and others interested in the State’s cultural history over three days of lectures, gallery talks, panel discussions, book signings, and optional meals and receptions which provide additional opportunities for networking and exchange. This event will take place at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts from Thursday, November 14 through Saturday, November 16, 2019. A full schedule of sessions follows, below.

This once-in-a-generation program would not be possible without the generous support of a host of sponsors, co-hosts, and partners including the Alabama Humanities Foundation; the Alabama State Council on the Arts; the Birmingham Museum of Art; Expose Art, Montgomery; the Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery; the Mobile Museum of Art; Space One Eleven, Birmingham; the Wiregrass Museum of Art, Dothan; Alabama State University; and Auburn University at Montgomery. Bearing Witness is a signature event of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission.


Thursday, November 14

6 PM Lecture: Alabama Portraiture [60min] 

Dr. William U. Eiland, Georgia Museum of Art 

7 PM Reception [60min] $10| Free for MMFA Members 

Friday, November 15 

8:30 AM Lecture: Art of Alabama’s Native Peoples [45min] 

Dr. Vernon James Knight, Emeritus, University of Alabama 

 9:15 AM Lecture: Alabama Landscapes [45min] 

Dr. Michael W. Panhorst, Landmarks Foundation 

 10 AM Break [30min]

10:30 AM Lecture: Art of Alabama Industry [45min] 

Dr. Katelyn Crawford, Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA)

11:15 AM Lecture: Art of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama [45min] 

Dr. Bridget R. Cooks, University of California, Irvine

Noon Buffet Lunch [90min] $20

Gallery Talk: Alabama Women Artists [30min] 

Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, BMA 

Gallery Talk: Cal Breed: Signs of Lift [30min] 

Glass Artist Cal Breed and Dr. Jennifer Jankauskas, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA)

12:30 PM Gallery Talk: Alabama Landscapes [30min] 

Dr. Michael W. Panhorst, Landmarks Foundation 

1 PM Gallery Talk: Self-Taught Alabama Artists [30min] 

Dr. Richard J. Powell, Duke University

1:30 PM Lecture: Women Artists of Alabama [45min] 

Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, BMA 

2:15 PM Lecture: Chester Higgins’ Photography and Relationship to Alabama [45min] Photographer Chester Higgins, Jr.

3 PM Break [15min] 

3:15 PM Lecture: New South and the Dixie Art Colony [45min] 

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA 

4 PM Gallery Talk: The Photograph Shugg Lampley at the Garden Gate [30min] Photographer Chester Higgins Jr.

Gallery Talk: Charles Shannon [30min] 

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, MMFA

5 pm Reception for Artist Market [60min] | For MMFA Members Only 

Saturday, November 16 

9 AM Panel Discussion: Public Art in Alabama [60min] 

Dennis Harper, Jule Collins Smith Museum; Chintia Kirana, Expose Art; and Deborah Velders, Mobile Museum of Art; moderated by Dr. Elliot A. Knight, Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA)  

10 AM Lecture: Love Will Find a Way: The Plaints & Acclamations of Alabama’s Artists [45min]

Dr. Richard J. Powell, Duke University 

10:45 AM Break [15min] 

11 AM Panel Discussion: Art in Alabama Today [60min] 

Stan Hackney, Mobile Museum of Art; Dr. Jennifer Jankauskas, MMFA; Essie Pettway, Gee’s Bend; and Peter Prinz, Space One Eleven; moderated by Amy Williamson Jenkins, ASCA

Noon Boxed Lunch [60min] $15.00

1 PM Lecture: The Role of Art in Advancing Truth and Justice [60min] 

Kiara Boone, Equal Justice Initiative 


This symposium is free to attend; however, registration is required as space is limited and sessions are filling. Register by 5 PM Thursday, November 7 in order to ensure you will receive all registration materials.

 The University of Alabama Press and Montgomery’s Read Herring will be onsite with books by speakers available for purchase. 

If you have any questions, please contact Brandy Morrison at or 334.625.4365.  

Lead Sponsors: Alabama Humanities Foundation, Alabama State Council on the Arts 

Co-Hosts:  Birmingham Museum of Art, Expose Art, Montgomery, Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery Mobile Museum of Art, Space One Eleven, Birmingham Wiregrass Museum of Art, Dothan

 Partners: Alabama State University, Auburn University at Montgomery

 Signature Event: Alabama Bicentennial Commission          

About the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts 

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1930 by a group of local artists

as a place for both exhibiting art and providing a space for art education. The original intentions of the founders were to exhibit and teach, and to inspire and inform every action and activity at the Museum. Since 1988 the Museum has shared the 277-acre Blount Cultural Park with our 

partners across the lake at the celebrated Alabama Shakespeare Festival. 

Today’s Museum visitors stroll art-studded grounds and permanent collection galleries. They experience compelling changing exhibitions and learn about art while visiting the ArtWorks interactive gallery, making art in the bustling studios, or by participating in other engaging events and programs. Museum visitors can now relax and recharge in the serenity of our stunning new three-acre John and Joyce Caddell Sculpture Garden, which celebrated its first anniversary in September 2019. 

While the Museum’s collection is still home to the art of many of the regional artists who first established it, it has also become known for its strength in American Art and Old Master Prints.  

Recently, important acquisitions of art made by African-American and Asian artists and works inspired by images and themes related to the experiences of these groups represent the breadth and depth of the lives and concerns of those who now call the River Region home. Through the exhibition of this work, as well as the programs and events that help connect our communities with it, the Museum is recognized as a leading arts and cultural resource here in the state and the Southeastern region.