Virginia Liles

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Virginia Pitts Rembert Liles (born November 15, 1921 in Birmingham; died July 5, 2013 in Birmingham) was chair of the art departments at Birmingham-Southern College, UAB, and the University of Alabama.

Virginia was the daughter of Umsted Samuel Pitts and Hazel Hudson Pitts, a Methodist minister and elementary school teacher, respectively. She earned her bachelor of art at the Alabama College for Women and then went to Columbia University's Teachers' College in New York City to pursue a master of arts in fine arts and fine arts education.

At Columbia, Virginia met John Lamar Rembert III. They married and she moved with him to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and then to Beloit, Wisconsin where he taught while she pursued a master of arts in art history at the University of Wisconsin. When Rembert suffered a stroke Virginia took over his teaching responsibilities.

After some time teaching at the Massachusetts College of Art, Rembert returned to Birmingham to join the art faculty at Birmingham-Southern in 1960. She completed her her Ph.D. in art history from Columbia in 1970 and was named chair of BSC's Department of Art in 1970. UAB's Frederick Conner hired her away to lead the newly-created department in his UAB School of Humanities in 1973. Two years later she accepted an endowed position at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She chaired an annual meeting of the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) there in 1978. Her husband John died that same year.

In 1982 Rembert was hired by Dean Douglas E. Jones to chair the art department at the University of Alabama. She brought SECAC to Tuscaloosa for their annual meeting in 1986, inviting her former student, Arne Glimcher, founder of New York's Pace Galleries, to show work from his personal collection and deliver a keynote address. Rembert worked with UAB's John Schnorrenberg to create a joint master's program in art history and labored to gain accreditation for her department from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. She retired from teaching in 1990 and moved back to New York City. She married artist and fellow Birmingham-native Raeford Liles in 1993.

Rembert wrote two books which were published by Parkstone Press, Mondrian in the U.S.A. (2002) and Bosch (2004). In 2006 the Lileses moved back to Birmingham, residing at the Danberry at Inverness. Virginia Liles died in 2013 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

References

  • Dobson, Rachel (Fall 2012) "Trailblazer for Women Leads UA Art into the Future." The Loupe (Newsletter of the University of Alabama Department of Art and Art History)
  • "Virginia Pitts Rembert Liles" obituary (July 2013) The Birmingham News