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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Month: March 2018

First Person: Sharisma Bell

Sharisma BellCongratulations to our former intern Sharisma Bell! Earlier this month, she was hired as the Marketing Producer for Raycom Media in Montgomery. Before getting her new job, she interned here at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Marketing and Public Relations for six months. In the end, she had dedicated 324 hours of her time towards learning every detail of the department from writing a news release, establishing contacts, to managing social media. Her final task was to write an informative blog about her experience here at the Museum.

Having graduated three years ago, being an intern was in the rear-view mirror for me. I had already completed two internships during my undergraduate studies, so at the age of 25, I couldn’t imagine being one for the third time. I like to think that we always have something to gain from every moment in life and sometimes you have to start as the student. Initially, I wondered could I be an intern again? Was it even worth it to dedicate time to something that I wasn’t receiving credit for? I pushed those thoughts aside when I approached Cynthia Milledge, the director of Public Relations and Marketing at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, about a possible internship. I could not pass up the opportunity to learn a couple of things from one of my favorite childhood places.

When I thought about a possible internship, I felt a sense of pride to be amongst prestige and art. I have always loved art because I think there is beauty in people creating what they feel, what they see, or what affects them. I find that viewing artwork allows you a quick glance at the artist’s mindset. Growing up in Montgomery, there were several occasions where I would visit the MMFA on field trips. I was either in ArtWorks with Bear Elementary or I was picking a piece of artwork and writing a poem for it with Booker T. Washington Magnet High School.

To be a part of what goes on behind the scenes of the Museum was definitely something I wanted to experience. So finally, I was able to achieve my goal and being here has allowed me to grow deeper into my creativity. While interning here, I have met some great people who have given me the foundation to expand my writing skills and my artistic ability. For example, I have researched several art pieces extensively and wrote descriptions of each piece for the Cell Phone Tours in the galleries. Secondly, I had the opportunity to write mock blogs and news releases in the Public Relations Department. Finally, I comprised two potential community projects that stemmed from my being a part of the atmosphere of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

All of these opportunities became possible through my decision to become an intern once again despite having graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014. I refused to let my age or my pride get in the way of me learning. I now realize if you remain humble, you might even see things that you might have been too proud to see. This has been an enlightening and unforgettable experience, and being a part of the MMFA family has only added more significant meaning and value to one of my favorite childhood places growing up in the capital city.


Internship Opportunities

Curious about a career at an art museum? Click here to learn more about internship opportunities at the Museum.

Frank Fleming (1940–2018)

Jerry Siegel (American, born 1958), Frank Fleming, 2010, archival pigment print, Lent by the artist © jerrysiegel.com

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, renowned Alabama artist Frank Fleming passed away. Born in Bear Creek, Alabama (roughly 155 miles northwest of Montgomery) in 1940, Fleming experienced a typical farm-boy childhood surrounded by animals and constantly outdoors. As a child, Fleming stuttered, and as a result of being teased by other children, he often turned to animals for company. He has said he felt more at home with animals than people as a child.

Because of his love for animals, Fleming originally planned to be a biology major, but when he took an elective course in art and discovered his talent, he decided instead to get a BA in art. He graduated from Florence State College in 1962 and would go on to earn his Master of Arts (1969) and Master of Fine Arts (1973) from the University of Alabama. Unable to find a teaching job, Fleming put aside his teaching ambitions and moved to Birmingham where he began making functional and decorative pottery, continuing his sculptural work on the side.

Fleming preferred to work in porcelain, particularly Tennessee porcelain, but also tried bronze casting—like his work surrounding the Till Fountain. His ceramic pieces were entirely hand-built, and he rarely created conceptual sketches of his works before he began, preferring to watch his compositions evolve as he worked. During his time at Florence State College, Fleming used paints and colored glazes but switched to clear glaze over plain white porcelain when he began to produce pottery professionally. Eventually, he came to leave the surfaces of his works unglazed to make surface textures more palpable and immediate to the viewer.

Fleming’s sculptures are notable for their extreme veracity of detail which makes them highly realistic. The disjunction between the careful detailing and colorless surfaces of his works, however, lends a bizarre, and many times surreal, atmosphere to his pieces. Most of Fleming’s works center around anthropomorphized animals, human-animal hybrids, and other organic hybrids. Humor is a common undercurrent in many of his works which is sometimes ironic, sometimes whimsical, and sometimes directed at Southern culture.

In addition to being an outstanding and creative talent in our state, Frank Fleming was a good friend to the Museum. He consistently supported the Museum’s Art Auction fundraisers, and he was generous with his time in working with our educators and docents.  In addition to the Till Fountain, the Museum holds four other works by Fleming, including two porcelain sculptures that demonstrate his amazing facility in the use of clay.

Learn more

Artist Biography
Objects by the Artist

Our Work in the Schools

2017–2018 School Year

The close of the school year marks two milestones for the Museum—a successful first year of Becoming Alabama: A Cultural Legacy, a tour for Montgomery Public School fifth graders designed to celebrate the bicentennial of Alabama, and the fifth year of the Learning Through Art: Artist in Residence Program weekly art classes at Wares Ferry Road Elementary School. Both engage students in creating and responding to art while making important cross-curricular connections.

Becoming Alabama explores the narrative of Alabama history through art in the Museum’s galleries and creative activities. Learning Through Art incorporates student-led discussion and writing about art along with creating. A teacher at Wares Ferry, whose classroom is impacted by the program, recently encouraged the Museum to “continue to integrate art in all schools for tracking critical thinking skills.”

Teachers, for more information, please contact Kaci Norman at knorman@mmfa.org.

Sponsor
Learning Through Art is funded in part by a grant from the Central Alabama Community Foundation.

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