Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art
Paul R. Jones © University of Alabama Photography
Paul R. Jones, 2008. © University of Alabama Photography
Paul R. Jones Collection. University of Alabama Photography
Children making their own works of art at the Paul R. Jones gallery. University of Alabama Photography
Backstory and Context
Paul began collecting works from African American artists in the 1960s because realized that there wasn't enough representation of African American art in galleries, museums, and auctions. Paul hadn't been especially wealthy in the 1960s, so he collected art work from lesser-known African American Artists and bought art from well-know artists when he could afford it. Paul saw art as a way to connect people from different cultures, which would lead to the creation of stronger communities. When Paul's collection grew large, he decided that his massive collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and drawings should be used for educational purposes.
In 2008, Paul donated over 1,700 pieces from his collection to the University of Alabama in hopes of his collection being incorporated into the university's curriculum. The university adopted the collection into their curriculum and went on to display parts of his collection in university galleries. Paul's collection has provided students as well as non-students with opportunities to learn about the cultural and historical significance of African American art. In 2011, The University of Alabama opened a separate gallery for Paul's collection in downtown Tuscaloosa. The collection is one of the largest collections of African American art in the world and valued at around 5 million dollars.
The mixed-media art collection features works from decades of African American artists who were rich, poor, well-known, and unknown. This collection is so significant because the pieces in it come from African Americans who had all sorts of different backgrounds. One piece of art could depict a drawing of a scene of everyday life for an African American in the 1960s, while another piece could be a painting or photo of a famous event or person. The gallery contains rotating works from over 600 artists that are on exhibit year-round and is free and open to the public. K-12 classes are also welcome to the art exhibits, lectures, performances, concerts, and workshops that the gallery hosts throughout the year.
Riggins, Zachary. "Paul R. Jones, 1928-2010; Collector of African american Art." Los Angeles Times, 2010.