UM faculty member displays exhibition at Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

UM Associate Professor Karen Graffeo currently has an exhibition on display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Contributed)

UM Associate Professor Karen Graffeo currently has an exhibition on display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Contributed)

FROM STAFF REPORTS

BIRMINGHAM-Karen Graffeo, an associate professor of art and director of photography concentration at The University of Montevallo, has an exhibit on display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

The exhibit is titled ‘Let us Now Praise the Roma Photography,’ and will be on display until Sunday, Sept. 27 in the Odessa Woolfolk Gallery.

Graffeo spent 15 years documenting the culture of the Roma, or gypsies, inside refugee encampments, caravans, slums and housing projects in Italy, Romania and France.

The situation of the Roma is strikingly similar to that of African Americans. Both share a history of slavery and oppression, as well as recognition that their own communities must lead the fight for reform.

“This exhibition is a validation that this group of people is seen and that doors for understanding create movement,” said Graffeo. “My hope is that this exhibit shows the power of breaking down prejudice and barriers to dignity.”

The exhibition includes 28 large-scale photographs and a video documentary. On Thursday, Aug. 20, a reception for the exhibit will be held at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute from 6-8 p.m., which is free and open to the public.

“We are proud to announce Karen Graffeo’s exhibit is on display,” said Dr. Steven Peters, Dean for the College of Fine Arts. “Karen has been a professor at Montevallo since 1990 and has a strong passion for portraying culture through photography.”

Graffeo was a University Scholar award winner in 2005-2006 and is a past recipient of grants from the Alabama Arts Council, the Andy Warhol Foundation through Space One Eleven and the Tuscaloosa Arts Council.

She received her undergraduate degree from Jacksonville State University and a Master of Arts in art education from The University of Alabama, where she also earned degrees in photography and painting.