Sankofa Society: Friends of African-American and African Art

In West African language and culture, sankofa reminds one to remember and learn from the past. Sankofa, often symbolized with a bird looking backwards or a stylized heart, also means to bring forward the good from the past and use it in the present in order to progress. This grounds the Sankofa Society: Friends of African American and African Art.

The Sankofa Society: Friends of African American and African Art is a congenial group of people who appreciate, collect, and support African American and African art. Our purpose is three-fold: to support the Birmingham Museum of Art in acquisitions, to educate about art created by people of African descent, and to promote art of the Diaspora locally, regionally, and nationally. We fulfill our mission through membership dues, educational travel, seminars, lectures, and reaching out to other institutions and groups who are interested in African American and African art. Additionally, the Sankofa Society invites and welcomes artists to our city as a way to cultivate a meaningful and long-term relationship with the artist, the museum, and most importantly, Birmingham.

$250 per member
$100 per junior member (under 40)

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Recent Events

Special Lecture with Paper Conservator
June 17, 2015
12:00 PM
Birmingham Museum of Art Members Room

SieglerThe BMA welcomes Dr. Sheila Siegler, DIC, FIIC, MAIC, who is currently a freelance paper conservator, lecturer, and science consultant. This is an event for members of BMA support groups only.

In her talk, Dr. Siegler will discuss what paper is and how it’s made; what deteriorates paper (light, humidity, insects, humans, and more); how to stop deterioration; and how to care for your collection at home, especially photographs.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring 1-2 works on paper from your personal collections. Dr. Siegler will comment on the condition of your works, as well as recommend treatments. Lunch will not be served at the event; however, we encourage you to meet your friends before or after the event for lunch in Oscar’s Café.

If you plan to attend the event, please RSVP to Bethany McClellan at 205.254.2567 or by Friday, June 12.


Decoding Black ArtKelliGallery_01 copy
Monthly series

Join Kelli Morgan, Ph.D. Candidate and Ford Fellow in residence at the BMA for a lecture series on African-American art. All lectures are free and open to the public, with private gatherings for Sankofa Society members before. The series analyzes and illuminates important works of African American art within the Museum’s permanent collection:

June Lecture

“Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College”

Bohourfoush Gallery

Sunday, June 21


Opening Reception and Artist Meet: Amos Kennedy 
“Thank You for Buying a Poster” An Exhibition of Letterpress Prints
Paperworkers Local
3815 Clairmont Ave Birmingham, AL 35222
Friday, April 17
5:30 pm

Kennedy produces showcard posters for local and regional events as well as his own catalog of inspirational and commemorative designs, usually featuring boldly-lettered quotations. He is a regular exhibitor at the Kentuck Festival and his work is sold at galleries and museum shops across the South. Kennedy was profiled in a 2008 documentary, “Proceed and Be Bold!”, directed by Laura Zinger.

Meet Artist Rick Lowe

Birmingham Museum of Art

Wednesday, April 8


MacArthur Fellow and current Breeden Scholar in Residence at Auburn University Rick Lowe is an artist whose unconventional approach to community revitalization has transformed a long-neglected neighborhood in Houston into a visionary public art project that continues to evolve, two decades since its inception. Originally trained as a painter, Lowe shifted the focus of his artistic practice in the early 1990s in order to address more directly the pressing social, economic, and cultural needs of his community.

With a group of fellow artists, he organized the purchase and restoration of a block and a half of derelict properties—twenty-two shotgun houses from the 1930s—in Houston’s predominantly African American Third Ward and turned them into Project Row Houses (PRH), an unusual amalgam of arts venue and community support center. Lowe has initiated similarly arts-driven redevelopment projects in other cities, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, and North Dallas. Lowe’s pioneering “social sculptures” have inspired a generation of artists to explore more socially engaged forms of art-making in communities across the country.

Rick Lowe is an Alabama native who attended Columbus College and studied visual arts at Texas Southern University in Houston. He is currently the Breeden Scholar in Residence at Auburn University. Along with his MacArthur Genius Grant, Lowe is also the recipient of the Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change and the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities.

Meet artist Basil Watson

at Paperworks Local

Monday, March 30

5:30 pm

3815 Clairmont Ave S

Birmingham, Alabama 35222

Basil Watson

Inspired by the energy, vigor, and emotive quality of the human figure, renowned artist Basil Watson explores the language of the body through drawing and sculpture. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Basil studied at the Jamaica School of Art. From busts to life-size sculptures, his work can be seen across Jamaica, including the National Gallery of Jamaica, Jamaica’s three major universities, and the National Stadium.

Now residing in the U.S., Basil’s influence continues to grow as he is represented in galleries across the states. Recent major accomplishments include his participation in the 7th International Sculpture Symposium in Changchun, China where he completed the life-size sculpture Earth to Heaven and the installation of the 15 ft. sculpture Balance on Doctor’s Cave Beach commemorating their 100th anniversary.