Miriam (Maddox Jackson) McClung is an American artist from Birmingham, Alabama. McClung is known for her colorful, impressionistic paintings, particularly in oils and pastels. Miriam’s work has been featured in shows and exhibits by the Alabama Pastel Society, Pastel Society of the West Coast, Birmingham Museum of Art Biennial, Birmingham – Hitachi, Japan Exhibition of Artists, Watercolor Society of Alabama, Huntsville Museum of Art Red Clay Survey, the University of West Alabama, Jacksonville State University, and churches and galleries in Alabama and the Southeast. In 2018, Miriam was recognized for a lifetime achievement by the Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham, Alabama, as a celebrated women artist in the Alabama art world.

Early Life

Miriam Maddox Jackson (McClung) (b. 1935) was born in Birmingham, Alabama to Philip C. Jackson, Sr. and Ellen Maddox. Miriam was the youngest of three siblings with an older sister, Margaret Jackson Bundy, and the eldest brother, Philip C. Jackson, Jr. She grew up in one of Birmingham’s first “over the mountain” suburban communities, Mountain Brook, where she attended Mountain Brook Elementary School (1940-1949) then later Shades Valley High School (1949-1953) where she was in the Theta Kappa Delta Sorority.

Encouraged by her parents, Miriam developed an interest in art at a young age. Being a relatively new school outside Birmingham, Mountain Brook Elementary did not offer formal art classes at the time. In search of artistic instruction, Miriam’s mother found Mrs. Louise Cone, a well-known Southern artist and instructor, whose studio was located on Highland Avenue in Birmingham. Mrs. Cone taught Miriam by having her copy paintings and drawings. Beyond the act of replication, the real value of the lessons came from Cone’s studio itself. Housed in a spacious room on the third floor of an old house, the studio contained a variety of objects, antiques, and numerous portraits, creating an immersive environment for a young artistic exploration.

Miriam’s father also encouraged her artistic development by stopping at every museum in larger cities while on family vacations. Though Birmingham did not have a public art museum during Miriam’s youth, these visits to museums in larger cities exposed her to world-class art and artists at a young age.

“There was no Birmingham Museum of Art available to us back in the 1930s and 40s, there were plenty of good artists around whose work I saw in homes around town. Billy Wilson’s paintings and portraits were all over town. Also, my Father was an avid amateur photographer, and I learned a lot about composing pictures from him. When I was about ten, my father would take me down to Henderson’s Frame Shop on 3rd Avenue. A young man who worked for him was Gene Smith, who later opened the frame shop and gallery in Homewood originally called “Little House on Linden” (Avenue). If my family traveled anywhere, we always went to the museum in the city. I vividly remember going to the Huntington Library in California and seeing Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy,” so impressive. ”.[1]

Miriam would later take art lessons from Mrs. LaNeil Wilson throughout high school. “I went to high school at the then “new” Shades Valley School and was in the first graduating class. There was a wonderful art teacher there, LaNeil Wilson. From her modern teaching, I decided to major in art at the University of Alabama.”[1]

Transformative Years 

Like many of her close friends in Birmingham growing up, Miriam had ties to the University of Alabama, but primarily attended because “it had a reputation as the best university art program in the state and was close to home.” While attending, Miriam joined the Delta Delta Delta (Tri-Delt) sorority where she would eventually serve as president. Most importantly, at Alabama, she received a world-class undergraduate art education and met future well-known Alabama artist classmates like William Christenberry, Frank Gunter, and Dale Kennington.

“As an undergraduate fine art major at the University of Alabama, I was surrounded by some very talented and soon-to-be well-known Alabama artists like my sorority sister, Dale Kennington of Dothan Alabama, whose work would later be shown at many museums across the country. The screens Dale did were the most incredible things I had ever seen. Most inspiring was her dedication to her art and her work ethic of starting painting at 8 a.m. and working until 5 p.m. every day. Dale was an artist that Alabama can be proud of for years to come.”[1]

“I was also inspired at the University by classmate Bill Chrisenberry who is from near Livingston, Alabama. He created fantastic work with his small Brownie camera, not to mention all his other work at the galleries in Washington D.C.. I had a sculpture class with him, and we all knew what a special artist he was.”[1]

Much of Miriam’s work at the University was influenced by semi-abstract and Abstract Expressionism taught at that time in undergraduate art school. There wasn’t much realism taught at that time at the University. Miriam’s loose style was influenced by her professors Richard Zoellner and Angelo “Jack” Granata (a noted sculptor). Miriam’s artistic formation went beyond the classroom and classmates from University sponsored summer art programs with nationally known artists to guide student tours of art museums throughout post-war Europe.

“The University offered several other opportunities to expand my art understanding including an art tour of Europe, where we met renowned Swiss artist, sculptor, and painter Alberto Giacometti, and a summer art class at the University of Colorado taught by Mark Rothko. I frankly had never heard of Rothko, until I returned to the University and the professors told me what a great painter he was. Rothko was kind and patient with all in the class.”[1]



Following graduation from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Miriam attended the nationally known Art Students League of New York from 1957 to 1958. Her Southern accent didn’t help her as a waitress in a city diner where she lasted only one day, but her art degree did get her an administrative assistant position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Marshall Davidson, associate curator of the American wing and later noted writer on American art history.

“I loved the correspondence between him and John Canady telling about Sargent’sPortrait of Madame X”. Doris Wainwright Kennedy, a great watercolor artist, was kind to young painters in New York and she included me in a party where I met Salvador Dali.”[1]

Miriam primarily focused her study at the Art Students League on abstract art, which was the trending movement at that time. Miriam roomed with several other student artists at the time in an apartment that was so dilapidated that when her sister visited she vowed not to tell their parents how bad the conditions were. Miriam’s art studio in the basement of a building on 41st and Lexington Avenue wasn’t much better. The mice would run along the pipes above her easel as she painted. Miriam also remembers toting paintings by hand many blocks to school because they would not fit into taxis. Miriam’s study at the Art Students League and return to Birmingham in 1959 would mark the end of her abstract period and a turn to more realism in her work.[1]


Life & Art

Upon moving back to Birmingham, Alabama in 1959, Miriam worked briefly as an administrative assistant to the Vice President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham but was so bored she spent most of her time sketching and drawing at work. She quit and started her professional art career. Miriam was also active in fundraising activities to build Birmingham’s first art museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art. During this decade, she met dentist and former school sweetheart, Dr. Jesse Newman McClung, Jr., a divorcee with four children. Miriam and Jesse married and had one son, Frank Philip McClung in 1969.

Besides the birth of her only child, two other major life events would significantly influence Miriam’s art and career. First, not long their marriage, Miriam’s husband attempted to take his life. He survived, but the attempt left him partially paralyzed and needing full-time care. Miriam was now faced with the dual duties of caregiving and raising their child. Despite significant attempted rehabilitation through the Veteran’s Administration hospital, Miriam’s husband was not able to regain the ability to walk.

The second major life event was her conversion from a traditional Christian faith in the Methodist Church to an evangelical faith during the Jesus Movement of the 1970s. Miriam’s faith would be a significant source of strength and comfort in her life and play a prominent role in her biblical art from the 1990s forward.

Unlike many of her contemporary male counterpart artists, Miriam’s painting and artistic rhythm were continually challenged by the demands of caregiving for her invalid husband and raising her son. She was fortunate to receive significant encouragement and support for both her personal life and her art career from family members, close friends, and later her church. During this 30-year, mid-career period until her husband’s passing, Miriam continued to paint but was unable to pursue public shows and mature art career marketing activities.

In the last two decades, Miriam resumed more active public participation in showing her art despite the challenges related to her age. Miriam lived and painted in Birmingham until 2021 when she moved to Crossville, Tennessee to live with her son and her grandchildren. She continues to actively paint, draw, and show her work in the local area and online.

Art Career

Abstract Expressionism

Miriam’s undergraduate, post-graduate, and early career was focused on abstract, semi-abstract, and abstract expressionist movements as was popular during the 1950s and early 1960s. Her abstract expressionist work, “Woman Reading a Bible”[2] (oil on canvas, 1957) was done from a scene at the Bryce Mental Hospital (Alabama Insane Hospital) in Northport, Alabama where Miriam attended a Sunday School class her senior year in college at the University of Alabama. Miriam’s senior thesis work, “Orange Abstract”[3] is another excellent example of this period. Upon returning from post-graduate studies at the Art Students League of New York, Miriam painted “Brown and Blue Abstract”[4] (oil on linen, 1959), a piece that would be her best and final abstract work of this period.

Contemporary Impressionism

Upon moving back to Birmingham after living and studying in New York, Miriam got a job as a stenographer for the President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The work was so monotonous and slow that Miriam spent most of her day sketching and drawing. During this period, she moved into an apartment in the Highlands neighborhood and continued her artistic development.

“I took classes over the years from Max Hellman, Billy Wilson, Lem McDaniels, Arthur Stewart, and Billy McVoy … all talented artists in the city. Max Hellman taught a class at Little House on Linden, and I learned a great deal of fundamental drawing from him. I spent a lot of my creative energy painting landscapes and scenes around Birmingham. Of particular interest have been Birmingham’s many villages which have grown and changed dramatically over the years.” [1]

Miriam’s dedication to painting the city of Birmingham, Alabama, and its surrounding villages, neighborhoods, landmarks, and gardens for over seventy years tell the story of the city through some of its most prosperous and culturally significant periods—from the explosive growth of “Over the Mountain” communities to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. During this period she achieved her mature contemporary impressionist style that would become a hallmark of her oil paintings that emphasize color, meaning, and emotion over realism, technique, and visual accuracy.

Portraiture At The Farnsworth School

In 1963, Miriam lived in Sarasota, Florida in a small, rented L’il Abner’s creator cartoonist, Al Capp’s summer cottage near the beach at Siesta Key while attending the Farnsworth School. Jerry Farnsworth was a renowned portrait painter and his students benefited greatly from his technique and teaching. This proved to be an influential experience and Miriam’s portraiture work blossomed. Had she not had so many other artistic interests, Miriam could have gone on to become a portrait artist in her own right after studying under Farnsworth.

“I learned more about painting at the Farnsworth’s School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. I was down there for about six months. Jerry Farnsworth was a great admirer of El Greco, and it showed in his work. Also, he was the first painter I have run across who scraped the canvas down after a session. It is a great technique to use and also I had never used long bristle brushes. It was a struggle at first to change over but found it was a good way for me to paint.”[1]

Burnsville Painting Classes (SeeCelo)

Throughout the 1980s Miriam spent several summers in Burnsville, NC attending the Burnsville Painting Classes (SeeCelo). There were many opportunities to work on portraits in the class with an emphasis on watercolor. During her time at the Burnsville Painting classes, she explored and honed her watercolor techniques on people and landscapes. This phase loosed her style and would play a part in how she approached pastel work in the 1990s.

“My favorite place was the Burnsville Painting Classes. John Bryan and Everret Kivette were teachers there who took over the classes started by Frank Stanley Herring and his wife, Frances. I attended classes there in the summer for two weeks over ten years. The criticism was frank but never cutting. These are some of the portraits from those classes.”[1]

A Turn to Faith-Centered Art

The most significant change in her artistic vision came in the late 1980s. Miriam’s Christian faith had been central throughout her life growing up in a Methodist church, then finding a personal connection to God during the Jesus Movement of the 1970s. However, her faith was not visibly expressed in her art.

“In the late 1980s when I turned fifty, I told God so far all my work has been for me, and from now on I wanted the work to be His wherever He would take me. Although I’m still painting Birmingham and Alabama, it has become the backdrop for biblical scenes.”[1]

Miriam’s faith-centered work often sets the biblical scene in the context of Birmingham and the surrounding villages rather than painting it from a historical perspective. This use of an artist’s existing environment to depict biblical scenes isn’t new, but it is rare for modern artists and certainly for an artist to devote so much of their career.

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross draws from traditional meditations on the suffering of Christ developed during the late Middle Ages and popularized by Franciscan communities. Over a decade and a half, Miriam created the pastels in this series centered around the historical fourteen stations with the backdrop of Highland Drive winding up the Red Mountain overlooking Highland Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Several of the Stations series hang in Alabama churches.

Seeing the Holy Land

In 2003, Miriam fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit the Holy Land and follow in the footsteps of other artists who have painted there. She and a cousin took a weeks-long art tour of significant cultural and historical places in Israel during which Miriam sketched, researched, and painted studies for works that she would later complete and form a collection called “Walking in His Footsteps“. Several of her most striking works came from this trip including The Damascus Gate[5], The Shepherd at Galilee[6], The Wall in Jerusalem[7], and Mary at the Tomb[8].


Art Studios

Miriam’s art studios influenced the subject matter, medium, size, and style of her work through the decades. Miriam often painted subjects around her studio, whether it was golf courses, parks, villages, backyards, gardens, or gas stations. When she lived in apartments, artwork sizes were limited to what could be stored and painted in a smaller space. Respecting the wishes of apartment neighbors not to mention her family, oil paints and cleaning materials like turpentine and mineral spirits limited her use of oils until she had a dedicated, large studio in her home. This larger studio allowed her the freedom to paint and store significantly larger works of art and explore other mediums.

Oftentimes, the studio itself became the subject of her painting. For example, “The Blue Studio”[9] is a painting of her Montclair Road apartment studio, and “Looking out the Playroom Window”[10] is a painting of her home studio when her son, Frank, train display was in the middle of the space.

Manhattan Basement Studio: New York City, New York (1958-1959)

Miriam’s first studio was in the basement of an apartment building on 41st Street and Lexington in Manhattan in 1959. It was dark and dingy with pipes running along the walls where the mice would run while she painted. Many of her abstract expressionist paintings and drawings were created in this less-than-hospitable studio. Some larger abstract works painted in the basement like “Brown and Blue Abstract”[11] often required Miriam to hand carry them several blocks on the street to her professors at the Art Students League because they would not fit into a cab.

Highland Apartment Studio: Birmingham, Alabama (1959-1968)

When she moved back to Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s, her parent’s home and attic briefly served as a studio until she moved into an apartment on Highland Avenue served as a studio. Much of her intimate knowledge and painting of the downtown area, especially Highland Park and Five Points South, occurred in her Highland apartment studio. Here Miriam’s expressionist style and mastery of color matured as seen in works like “Overlooking Highland Park Golf Course”[12].

Montclair Road Apartment Studio: Birmingham, Alabama (1968-1975)

After Miriam married, she and her husband and son lived in an apartment complex in Birmingham off Montclair Road. Once married, Miriam and Jesse moved to their permanent home at 4321 Warren Road in a suburb of Birmingham. When she moved into a home in the late 1970s, the home came with a garage converted into a large family room with high ceilings and superb light. Though small, one of Miriam’s most beloved works, The Blue Studio[9], was painted here.

Warren Road Home Studio: Birmingham, Alabama (1975-2021)

When she moved into a house in the late 1970s, the house came with a garage converted into a large family room with high ceilings and superb light. Initially, the room doubled as a playroom for her son, Frank, though it later became a dedicated art studio and has remained so for forty years. And the studio itself has been both the subject of and inspiration for many of Miriam’s works.

Over the years, many have helped improve the studio storage and functionality. Several groups and individuals from Briarwood Church in Birmingham donated their time to upgrade and renovate the studio. Although the studio was flooded in the 1990s, in 2014 the studio significantly flooded after a heavy spring rain with over a foot of water getting into the studio. Fortunately, most of the paintings were safely off the floor on stands, so there was very little water damage to the artwork except for a few drawings.

Searching for Studio Space: Crossville, Tennessee (2021-Current)

The Birmingham art studio continued to serve as a working creative space and climate-controlled storage for all Miriam’s art until 2021 when COVID-19 concerns caused Miriam to sell the Birmingham home and studio space to move to Crossville, Tennessee to be with her son, Frank. Although plans have been drawn up for a separate studio space to be built, rising construction costs have forced Miriam to keep her art in storage and paint from her suite in her current home.

Formal Education

Continuing Art Education and Experience

  • Albert Handel Artist Workshop. Highlands, North Carolina. 2021.
  • Bob Rohm Landscape Workshop. Bucks County, Pennsylvania. c. 1990s.
  • SEECELO, The Burnsville Painting Classes. Teachers Frank Stanley Herring, John Bryans, Everett Kivette. Burnsville, North Carolina. 1981, 1986.[13]
  • Mid-coast Maine Watercolor Workshop. Teachers Murray Wentworth and Larry Webster. Port Clyde, Maine. 1983.
  • Jerry Farnsworth School of Portrait Painting. Farnsworth School of Art. Sarasota, Florida. 1963.

Work Experience

Membership in Professional Organizations

Volunteer Work

  • Art Teacher. St. Martin’s in the Pines. Birmingham, Alabama. 1985-1989.

Group Exhibitions and Shows

Solo Exhibitions

Distinctions and Awards

  • Birmingham Arts Journal Award. “Umbrella and Flowers at the Gallery” by Miriam McClung. International Exhibition. Alabama Pastel Society. 2019.[37]
  • Magic City Art Connection, Celebrated Women Artists in Alabama, 2018[38]
  • Ampersand Award. “Christ Anointed with Perfume” by Miriam McClung. Annual Members Exhibition. Alabama Pastel Society. 2018.[39]
  • Girault Award. “Doctor and the Fountain” by Miriam McClung. Artist Mercantile Award, “Irish Puzzle” by Miriam McClung. Alabama Pastel Society. Pastels 2002: Second Biennial Members Exhibition. 2002.
  • Southeastern Pastel Society
  • St. Joseph’s Parrish Religious Show, Redding, California.
  • Second Place Mixed Media, Behold I Stand at the Door. Honorable Mention, The Massacre of the Innocent. Sacred Art Exhibition. Chapels on Redstone Arsenal. Huntsville, Alabama. July 21 – 27 1990.
  • Dauphin Street Church Religious Works Show. Mobile, Alabama.
  • Merit Award. Art and the Alabama Woman. Juried exhibition. Mobile College. Mobile, Alabama. 1990.
  • Best of Show. Catching Birds Eating Alpo by Miriam McClung. Mixed media. 60″ x 48″. Magic City Art Connection, Birmingham, Alabama. 1989.
  • First place, mixed media. Mountain Brook Art Festival Show. 1989.
  • Best of Show. Opelika Art Festival. Opelika, Alabama. 1989.
  • Side Show Gallery Purchase Award. “Rainy Morning” by Miriam McClung. 42nd Annual National Competition. Birmingham Museum of Art and Watercolor Society of Alabama. 1982.
  • Student Artist of the Week, University of Alabama. Jan 5, 1955.


Artists Books

  • McClung, Miriam. The Way of the Cross. Blurb Books, 2011.[40]
  • McClung, Miriam. Walking in His Footsteps. Blurb Books. 2012.[41]



  1. McClung, Miriam (January 1, 2024). Interviewed by Frank McClung.
  2. McClung, Miriam. Woman Reading a Bible. 1957. Oil on linen. Artist collection.
  3. McClung, Miriam. Orange Abstract. 1957. Oil on linen. Artist collection.
  4. McClung, Miriam. Brown and Blue Abstract. 1959. Oil on linen canvas. Artist collection.
  5. McClung, Miriam. The Damascus Gate. 2004. Oil on linen. Private collector.
  6. McClung, Miriam. The Shepherd at Galilee. 2004. Oil on linen. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Collection, Birmingham, Alabama.
  7. McClung, Miriam. The Wall in Jerusalem. 2004. Oil on canvas. Artist collection.
  8. McClung, Miriam. Mary at the Tomb. 2004. Oil on linen. Artist collection.
  9. McClung, Miriam. The Blue Studio. 1975. Oil on linen. Artist collection.
  10. McClung, Miriam. Looking out the Playroom Window. 1985. Oil on linen canvas. Private collector.
  11. McClung, Miriam. Brown and Blue Abstract. 1959. Oil on linen canvas. Artist collection.
  12. McClung, Miriam. Overlooking Highland Park Golf Course. 1964. Oil on linen. Artist collection.
  13. Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains (Volume 2 of 2) (EasyRead Super Large 18pt ed.). ReadHowYouWant.com. ISBN 978-1-4587-1603-3.
  14. “APS 2019 International Exhibition”. Alabama Pastel Society.
  15. “2018 Members Exhibition”. Alabama Pastel Society.
  16. “InSpero | What Makes You Weep?”. www.inspero.org.
  17. “Star Dust From The Alabama Pastel Society – The Kelly”. thekelly.org.
  18. “2015 Members’ Exhibition”. Alabama Pastel Society.
  19. Alabama Pastel Society 2014 Exhibition. Alabama Pastel Society.
  20. “Alabama Pastel Society to Hold Exhibition”. Over the Mountain Journal. September 23, 2004. p. 7.
  21. Hiles, Bruce (1990). Second Red Clay Survey: A Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art, September 9 – October 28, 1990. Exhibition Catalog. Huntsville, Alabama: Huntsville Museum of Art. p. 36. LCCN 90-82769.
  22. Eileen, Kunzman (August 9, 1989). Birmingham Hitachi Exhibition of Contemporary Birmingham Artists (Exhibition Book). p. 23.
  23. Williams, Bitsy (1985). Birmingham Biennial. Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Museum of Art. p. 28.
  24. Livingston, Jane (1982). The 42nd Annual National Competition of the Watercolor Society of Alabama (Exhibition catalog). Birmingham Museum of Art. p. 2.
  25. “It’s Sidewalk Art Show Day”. Birmingham Post-Herald. May 14, 1960. p. 10.
  26. Kughn, Sherry (October 30, 2019). “Birmingham octogenarian shows work at JSU”. Anniston Star News Journal. pp. 4A.
  27. Miriam McClung Solo Exhibit and Reception. aldridgegardens.com.
  28. “In the Gallery: Artist Miriam Mcclung”. Aldridge Gardens Newsletter: Nature and Art in Balance. June 2019. p. 1.
  29. “Miriam McClung, Artist at Drawing on the Promises Studio”. www.facebook.com.
  30. “Art Exhibit “I See Him Everywhere” at Webb Hall, UWA Campus”. Sumpter County Record-Journal. August 2018.
  31. “Easter Stations of the Cross Exhibit”. Miriam McClung.
  32. “Opening Reception: Miriam McClung”. thehomewoodstar.com.
  33. Char, Smith (June 14, 2012). “Israel 2003: Walking in His Footsteps”. Sumter County Record-Journal. pp. 5A.
  34. Compton, Betsy (June 2012). “UWA has new exhibit at Webb Hall Gallery”. Sumpter County Record Journal.
  35. “Exhibitions and Events”. Angel Tidings (Newsletter). Dallas, Texas: Biblical Arts Center. Fall 1996. pp. 1–2.
  36. Thompson, Dorothy (August 9, 1992). “York gallery was good choice for McClung”. The Meridian Star. pp. C1.
  37. “Alabama Pastel Society 2019 International Exhibition Awards”. 2019.
  38. “2018 SPECIAL EXHIBITION – Celebrated Women Artists of AL”. Magic City Art Connection.
  39. “2018 Members Exhibition Winner’s”. Alabama Pastel Society.
  40. The Way of the Cross by Miriam McClung | Blurb Books. 2011-11-14.
  41. Walking in His Footsteps by Miriam McClung | Blurb Books. 2012-08-20.
  42. Sturgeon, Elizabeth (2020-03-02). “A City as a Painting”. Mountain Brook Magazine.
  43. Monitor, Leigh Anne (April 25, 2003). “Collectors Find Jewels at Art Connection”. The Birmingham Post-Herald. pp. C1, C3.
  44. McClung, Miriam (2019). “Umbrella and Flowers at the Gallery” (PDF). Birmingham Arts Journal. 16 (1): 24–25.
  45. The Noble Army of Martyrs: Beeson Divinity School Samford University Community Worship, Fall 2018. Beeson Divinity School. 2018.

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