Artboard 1@4x-100

Celebration and Preservation: Drawing Alabama’s Architectural History

Architectural pen and ink drawings of historic Alabama by Melissa Tubbs on exhibit January 2018

Celebration & Preservation is an Alabama Bicentennial Commission Commemorative project celebrating two centuries of Alabama’s architectural history. Twenty-five pen-and-ink drawings of buildings from throughout the state have been created by Melissa B. Tubbs for a traveling exhibition which will be shown at six venues.

In 1943, Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Buildings are monuments to civilization. They represent who people are, what they have experienced, and what they value. Alabama’s architecture ranges from characteristic folk houses to structures typical of fashionable tastes of their day. They represent architectural styles such as Victorian Gothic, Georgian, Greek and Roman Revival, Romanesque Revival, Byzantine Revival, Usonian, Art Moderne, and Mid-Century Modern. Tubbs has created finely-detailed drawings of the buildings that have played a part in the state’s history. “The works of “Celebration & Preservation” are accurate and beautiful representations of structures that endure, which makes the exhibition a testimony to what has been preserved,” says Jay Lamar, Executive Director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. “It is also a powerful statement about the value of preservation itself. “Celebration & Preservation” encourages viewers to see our architectural treasures with fresh appreciation. It will also inspire us to preserve them for the future.”

Tubbs has traveled the state photographing the buildings she selected to draw, as well as gathering their histories and facts for a 32-page catalog accompanying the exhibition. The drawings depict homes and businesses from 1820, one year after statehood, through 1997 with a project from the Rural Studio run by Auburn University. Pen and ink is a method of drawing with lines. Volume of objects and shadows are created using layers of lines know as hatching or cross-hatching. Pen-and-ink drawings encompass simple sketches to detailed, full blown drawings such as the images in the exhibition.

Melissa B. Tubbs has been a pen-and-ink artist for 26 years. Her work has been shown internationally and has received many awards. Tubbs created drawings for use on two of Strathmore Artist Papers drawing pad covers. She considers herself a preservationist with pen and paper. Her favorite proverb sheds light on her mission: “The wise man preserves that which he values and celebrates that which he preserves.”