University of Mobile Art Professor Phillip Counselman Curates New Exhibit at Tennessee Valley Museum of Art

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MOBILE, Ala. – Phillip Counselman, associate professor of art and chairman of the art department at University of Mobile, is curator of a new exhibit at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art.

The show, titled “Gulf Coast Contemporary,” features 11 south Alabama artists including UM alumnus Heath Vester. Vester is web design specialist in the university’s Marketing and Public Relations Office, and is co-founder and senior designer of Bellum magazine.

The exhibit opens at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 20. The museum is located on 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia, Alabama, and admission to the opening is free.

“Gulf Coast Contemporary” will be on display through June 28. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1-3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students during the week. Sundays are free.

“Gulf Coast Contemporary” is an official Alabama Bicentennial Event that highlights the ideas and artistic diversity of southern Alabama.

“There’s something different about the work of everyone in the exhibition,” Counselman said. “The contrast between the artists is what is going to make it a great exhibit.”

Vester’s work is a photographic exhibit that explores how food shapes culture and brings people together.

“Like most things in life, someone must sacrifice in order for others to enjoy the benefits of their suffering. This work is an ode to the crawfish,” Vester said.

In addition to Vester, “Gulf Coast Contemporary” will feature the work of artists Pinky Bass, Pieter Favier, Susan Fitzsimmons, Wanda Sullivan, Rachel Wright, Conroy Hudlow, Lauren Woods, Matthew Hopson-Walker and Lucy Gafford.

Counselman said the variety encourages the viewer to spend more time with each work, and will ensure that there is something that is interesting or appealing for everyone.

He also elaborated on the meaning of “contemporary” in the context of the works selected. It’s used to refer to a specific style; the work isn’t necessarily representational and certainly not functional. The goal of each work is to create discussion.

“These works provoke conversation and dialogue,” Counselman said. “And it’s not a dialogue that’s only about one thing. There are multiple interpretations for each work. Nothing has just one meaning.”


About University of Mobile

University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in over 40 areas of study. Founded in 1961, University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.


For more information about University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.eduor call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.

About the Author

Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean is assistant vice president for university communications and has helped tell the University of Mobile story since 1993. She is an award-winning public relations professional and former journalist. Her husband and daughter are UM graduates. She loves playing in the yard – planting flowers, picking blueberries, pulling weeds and petting her two mini-schnauzers.

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