TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Renowned Alabama photographer P.H. Polk’s images of famed botanist George Washington Carver during his days at Tuskegee Institute will be displayed Aug. 27-Sept. 25 at The University of Alabama’s Paul R. Jones Gallery of Art in downtown Tuscaloosa.
A reception will be held at the gallery Sept. 4 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Both the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama includes more than 100 photographs by Prentice H. Polk, one of the largest collections of Polk photographs in the Southeast. Some were previously exhibited at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
As one of Tuskegee Normal and Technical School’s first photography students, P.H. Polk became the official photographer for The Tuskegee Institute, a position he held for 45 years.
George Washington Carver, a faculty member at the time, became one of Polk’s most photographed subjects. These intimate scenes show Carver at work in his laboratories and greenhouses, as well as in the fields, teaching eager students, receiving accolades, and lecturing about his many discoveries.
Mostly candid, sometimes blurry and taken in whatever light was available, these photographs pose a striking contrast to much of Polk’s studio work. Even so, the images display Polk’s virtuoso capability with regard to composition.
The gallery honors the late Paul R. Jones who, during his lifetime, amassed one of the largest collections of African American art in the world. Jones donated more than 2,100 pieces of his collection, now valued at $10.3 million, to UA in 2008. Jones was known as a passionate collector who sought to collect from both well-known and lesser-known artists, a quality which makes his collection distinct.
The Paul R. Jones Gallery is located at 2308 6th St. in downtown Tuscaloosa. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the first Friday of every month from noon to 8 p.m.
The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, 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 and Goldwater Scholarships.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.