Beauty stops us in our tracks. It makes us pause, look, consider. Sometimes it overwhelms us. We are often told art should aspire to this standard and be proportionate, symmetrical, naturalistic, and orderly. But what of work that is designed to revolt and terrify? Across subSaharan Africa, artists working across a range of states, societies, and cultures deliberately created artwork that violated conceptions of beauty, symmetry, and grace—both ours and theirs. Subverting Beauty features approximately two dozen works from sub-Saharan African’s colonial period (c.1880-c.
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For more than 30 years, New Orleans-natives Keith Calhoun (b. 1955) and Chandra McCormick (b. 1957) have been documenting life in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Known as “The Farm,” the prison was founded on the consolidated land of several cotton and sugarcane plantations. Slavery, The Prison Industrial Complex includes poignant photographs and videos that record the exploitation of men incarcerated in the maximum-security prison farm while also showcasing their humanity and individual narratives.
Spencer Finch’s impressive light installation Moon Dust (Apollo 17), first presented at the 2009 Venice Biennale, will illuminate the BMA’s majestic Fox Court for the next seven years. The work consists of 150 individual chandeliers with 417 lights. The chandeliers are hung individually from the ceiling and form one large, cloud-like structure. Although an abstract sculpture, the installation is also a scientifically precise representation of the chemical composition of moon dust as it was gathered during the Apollo 17 mission.
In the fall of 2018, the BMA’s oldest friends group, the Print, Drawing & Photograph Society (PDPS), will celebrate its 50th anniversary by sponsoring an exhibition to highlight a selection of late 19th-century, modern, and contemporary works on paper that PDPS has helped the BMA acquire over the years. Installed in a gallery adjacent to the Cone Collection, this one-gallery exhibition will be organized in two six-month presentations, each including 20–30 prints, drawings, and artists’ books.
Every Day: Selections from the Collection is the BMA’s first reinstallation of its contemporary collection centered on black artistic imagination. Nearly 50 works of painting, sculpture, video, printmaking, and photography from the BMA’s permanent collection, alongside a select group of loans primarily from the celebrated Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida Collection, foreground the critical contributions black artists have made to postwar visual art.
MacArthur award-winning artist and Baltimore icon Joyce J. Scott’s earliest art lessons were at the knee of her mother, the renowned fiber artist Elizabeth Talford Scott. The eldest Scott passed down to her daughter knowledge inherited from generations of craftspeople in their family who had honed their expertise and persisted in their artistry through the extreme deprivations of slavery and its aftermath in sharecropping, migration, and segregation. “They couldn’t buy things,” Joyce J. Scott recounts, “so they made things.
Projected lights, sounds, and reflective surfaces convey a sense of flowing water in Oletha DeVane’s installation, Traces of the Spirit, presented inside the BMA’s Spring House. The exhibition references the building’s past as a dairy and place where enslaved people were forced to labor and creates an altar-like location for a selection of the artist’s spirit sculptures. For these totem-like objects, DeVane (American, b.
Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art offers a sweeping new perspective on the contributions black artists have made to the evolution of visual art from the 1940s to the present moment. Artists featured include pioneers of postwar abstraction once overlooked by history, such as Norman Lewis, Alma W. Thomas, and Jack Whitten, as well as artists from a younger generation such as Kevin Beasley, Mark Bradford, Martin Puryear, Lorna Simpson, and many others.
This exhibition explores the cross-cultural connections in Melvin Edwards’ sculpture from 1980 to the present. Edwards (American, b. 1937) was profoundly influenced by his experience at a major arts festival in Lagos in 1977. Since then his work has increasingly connected to African art, languages, poetry, liberation politics, and philosophy. He has made reciprocal ties to many African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Senegal, where he has maintained a home for nearly 20 years.
This focus exhibition acknowledges and celebrates the contributions of women artists to the development of American modernism through nearly 20 works from the BMA’s collection by Elizabeth Catlett, Maria Martinez, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Marguerite Zorach, and others. The selection of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts showcases these artists’ innovative engagements with the major art movements of 20th century from Cubism to Abstract Expressionism.
From wedding cake to Amazing Grace, Baltimore-based artists Wickerham & Lomax create a wedding, funeral, and anniversary party inspired by moments of transformation as expressed in Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art. The new exhibition presents more than 70 monumental paintings and sculptures by generations of black artists who ignored the mandate to create works that had visibly ‘black’ content. Toast the legacy of these artists and Wickerham & Lomax (celebrating 10 years of collaborations!) during this memorable night.
In conjunction with DIS | A Good Crisis, join us for DIS University (DIS U). The conversation series brings together DIS contributors and Baltimore-based thinkers for extended dialogue on big ideas. Moderated by Lee Heinemann of Get Your Life!.
Join Lisa Snowden McCray, Editor-in-Chief of Baltimore Beat, with Matt Goerzen, researcher at the Data and Society Research Institute.
Arrive early! The first 50 guests at each event receive a free DIS U travel mug. Pop-up coffee shop and bookstore presented by Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse and Thread Coffee Roasters.
Join matriarchs of Baltimore’s art community Joyce J. Scott and Oletha DeVane for a lively conversation with renowned art historians Leslie King Hammond and Lowery Stokes Sims.
Learn more about the prolific bodies of work of Scott and DeVane.
Arrive early to see Hitching Their Dreams to Untamed Stars and Oletha DeVane: Traces of the Spirit from 5–6:30 p.m. Visit the BMA Shop for a copy of Traces of the Spirit exhibition catalog, featuring vibrant images of DeVane's spirit sculptures with essays by Hammond and Sims.