Inside Birmingham’s Space One Eleven art program – a bright light in Alabama


Peter Prinz is CEO and co-founder of Space One Eleven. (Karim Shamsi-Basha / Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama News Center

In 1986, Peter Prinz noticed that artists in Alabama did not have many places to exhibit their work. He decided to do something, and the result was Space One Eleven.

“Space One Eleven was founded out of cultural isolation,” said CEO and co-founder Prinz. “Back then, there wasn’t really a space like this for artists to show off their work. This area has long been a “flyover area”. Birmingham was in dire need of a studio like ours. Over 500 people visited our first exhibit, and I would like to think they never left.

Located in the heart of Birmingham city center, Space One Eleven offers artists professional opportunities to create a forum for public understanding and contemporary art. It provides arts education to low-income adults and youth in the city.

“We started our citizen art program in 1992, where we work with low income communities and also children in those communities. We received funding from Alabama Power to start this, ”said Prinz. “Alabama Power and the Alabama Power Foundation have supported us over the years in a number of ways. “

Space One Eleven is an Alabama Bright Light from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Cheryl Lewis is Program Director for Space One Eleven. She has seen the studio grow year after year and offer many programs to the community.

“We have a visual arts exhibition program and an arts education program,” Lewis said. “I am very proud of our arts education program, where we mentor kids from grades 2 to 12. We use a sliding salary scale so that no family has a barrier to raising their children. It’s a pretty intense program and a very immersive experience.

Since its founding, Space One Eleven has championed social justice through contemporary exhibitions by women and minority artists. These artists exhibit their work at Space One Eleven, where they explore, innovate, take risks and spark thought.

“We have supported artists from all walks of life from the start, especially those who did not have a voice,” said Prinz. “We even had a show about gun violence and police brutality among other social justice issues. In the 1980s, an artist provided an article on AIDS. Social justice is still an issue these days, and we intend to address all aspects of it at Space One Eleven.

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Space One Eleven celebrates its 35th anniversarye anniversary with an exhibition that opened on November 12 and will run until January 7. Several artists are represented, including David Baird, Gary Chapman, Caroline Cooper, Sally Heller and John Northrop.

And something special is coming early next year.

“We have a surprise event on March 26, so look for an announcement on social media,” Lewis said.

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Kayleen C. Rice