Originally published on October 18, 2017 in BmoreArt.com
Melani Douglass has long been a champion for inclusivity. The programming she curated through the Family Arts Museum while an MFA Curatorial Practice Graduate student and as a Fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Urban Arts Leadership Program, facilitated numerous collaboration between community members and local arts institutions. Douglass’s curatorial efforts have consistently explored intersections between art, race and environment.
The power of her engagements is encapsulated in the principles that found their creation: in fostering healthy and sustainable pipelines between artists, arts institutions and communities. Douglass expounds on this mission in her new role as Director of Public Programs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Douglass and I talked about her position, upcoming exhibitions she is excited about, and collaborations between artists and institutions in Baltimore and DC. CONTINUE READING
Originally published on September 15, 2017 in Bmoreart.com
"Black Magic: AfroPasts/AfroFutures mines the Afro-diasporic visions, dreams and psychedelic premonitions of eight visual artists: Pierre Bennu, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, Ivan Forde, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Adrienne Gaither, Charles Jean-Pierre, Tariku Shiferaw, Danny Simmons, and also includes a literary contribution from Chlöe Bass. The collection at Honfleur Gallery in Washington DC assembled by Anthropologist/Curator Niama Safia Sandy is situated in distant, contemporary and future worlds that channel Afrofuturist and magical realist theory and literature. It harkens back to the exhibit of the same name Sandy curated in Brooklyn in 2016, but features different artists from DC and Baltimore instead." CONTINUE READING
Originally published in Bmoreart.com on September 11, 2017
"Adam Pendleton’s Wall Works, a term he coined to describe his massive floor-to-ceiling collage installations, are subtle, subversive, and saturated with obscure and purposefully convoluted content. On display at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s expansive lobby wall and in the Front Room Gallery, Pendleton codes his work with bold black and white iconography. Although they resemble graphic design and industrial printing methods, Pendleton’s iterations evade clarity, questioning about the role of language in social resistance movements.
Unlike the lobby, where Pendleton’s designs fill one two-story wall like wallpaper, the exhibit in the Front Room is completely immersive, with Wall Works on all sides. I wasn’t sure how to respond to the work when I first encountered it, and could not help but play the chorus from Erykah Badu’s classic anthem “… & On” in my head: What good do your words do if they can’t understand you / Don’t go talking that shit, Badu. Badu.
Wall Works warrant deep consideration of languages, both known and unknowable, and offer a push and pull between the legible and illegible components of abstraction, the histories I could discern and the ones too obstructed to decode." CONTINUE READING
Originally published on August 25, 2017 in Arts.Black
t has been more than twenty years since the prolific scholar and curator Thelma Golden organized her seminal exhibition Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Some critics praised the collection for its broad depictions of black masculinity, which included perspectives from artists that neither identified as black or male. Most critics, however, considered the collection as exploitative, problematic, and not reflective enough of everyday black male identities. When the show traveled from New York to UCLA’s Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, it was met with protests, and counter-exhibitions by those who felt the work did not reflect their ideas or lived experiences of black masculinity. Golden maintained that the exhibition was not intended to be a “survey on black men” or a “catalog of types” rather, the exhibition worked as a sprawling mirror, a museum of refracted perspectives and imaginaries about black masculinity.
The aroused, triggered, enraged and enamored responses Black Male evoked ripple into contemporary dialogues. We artists, curators, critics, and patrons of color, each persist in our struggles to complete works that are at once contemplative of black and brown, queer and non-gender specific, marginal and interstellar representation, but not singularly limited to racialized, gendered, sexually oriented or planar contextualization. One wonders if works created by black artists that feature black subjects, will ever be conceived beyond the identities assumed of the bodies portrayed; if black art can ever just be, art.
Gallery CA which rests in the gritty and quickly gentrifying arts enclave of Greenmount West in East Baltimore City is no Whitney Museum. The humble gallery resides on the bottom level of a low-income housing apartment complex that frequently opens its doors to Charm City’s emerging and established artists. Despite the city’s nearly 64% black population, it is still rare for art works created by regional black artists and other artists of color to receive solo exhibitions at major art institutions and museums. Rarer still for those exhibitions to be curated by black artists, and representation of people of color in arts administrator roles are abysmally deficient. And yet, Two Lanes Stories, an exhibition currently on view at the at Gallery CA, falls in line with the spirit and intention of Black Male and prompts similar queries towards deeper and broader black masculine identity definitions by resisting caricature. CONTINUE READING
Originally published August 9, 2017 on Bmoreart.com
"When Watching God, the sophomore solo exhibition from emerging artist Asha Elana Casey, curated by Gallery 102 Director Andy Johnson at The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at GW, juxtaposes texturally dense black and white abstraction with figurative portraiture to visualize West African rituals and transcendental states of consciousness.
The metaphysical, meditative landscapes Casey invokes are derived from the ritual iconography of pre-Abrahamic spiritual systems that proliferated throughout the African Diaspora as a result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade; IFA, Akom and Haitian Voudoun. I sat with the artist at Gallery 102 to discuss her influences and intentions." CONTINUE READING
Originally published July 28, 2017 on Bmoreart.com
"The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center presents Botany, the first solo exhibition of mixed media artist Clare Elliott. “My artwork is about highlighting the relationships and the love that I have and how they are important to me,” Elliott offered during our brief interview.
The direction of the show changed when Elliott learned that her godmother, Lori S. Goodman, an esteemed dancer/choreographer with Arena Players and award-winning instructor of Western High School Dance Team, passed away from lupus. Elliott grew up in Northwest Baltimore and attended Western High School. “I’ve known [Goodman] since I was 14 years old. You think fundamentally in the time that you mature; you become who you are. She was a huge part of that.”
In response, Elliott rallied her community of Western Alumni and members of Goodman’s family together to create a profound memorial. Goodman’s Girls, the prominent collection within the Botany exhibition, features twenty-eight small collaged portraits of women who were deeply impacted by Goodman’s tutelage and mentorship." CONTINUE READING
Originally published July 18, 2017 in Bmoreart.com
"Visionary social innovators and beloved Reservoir Hill Dovecote Café owners Cole and Aisha Pew have had an extraordinarily busy and productive year. In partnership with local and national entrepreneurs, the pair facilitated countless initiatives designed to combat systemic disinvestment in underserved communities within Baltimore City; food deserts, home ownership, lack of investment in POC led ventures, and others.
The latest venture, The Black Arts Executive Director Pipeline Program, launched via sister organization Brioxy, seeks to prepare Black artists, administrators, philanthropists, creatives and cultural workers for arts administration leadership careers.
“In the past year and a half we have worked with hundreds of leaders around the country,” Cole shared during a brief interview. “Part of our goal over the next couple of years is to really deepen our roots in Baltimore and to be able to support leaders from across different sectors.” " CONTINUE READING
Originally published June 22, 2017 in Bmoreart.com
"Bloodlines at Transformer DC curated by Martina Dodd features fine and performance artists who work with blood as a medium and metaphor for the familial, feminine and/or spiritual experiences all women encounter. Artists Lisa Hill, Tsedaye Makonnen, Samera Paz, Iman Person and members of the aje collective, made up of queer Black trans-media artists, each honor, interpret and display their personal connections to blood, motherhood, women’s bodies and menstrual cycles." CONTINUE READING
This is the last week Bloodlines will be on display at Transformer DC (Closes June 24, 2017). Be sure to visit www.transformerdc.org for more info and visit the show before it closes this weekend.
Originally published June 21, 2017 in Baltimore City Paper
"For thousands of years people all over the world have used materials sourced from the earth to record and grapple with cultural histories, memories, and identities in the form of masterful ceramics, tiles, and tools. Baltimore Clayworks' latest exhibition, "People of Color. People of Clay.," features a vast collection of works by 30 contemporary artists who continue this human tradition, folding their own stories into the earth." CONTINUE READING
"People of Color. People of Clay." is up at Baltimore Clayworks through July 1. For more info, visit baltimoreclayworks.org
Originally published June 19, 2017 in BmoreArt.com
"Inspired by early American figurative painting, Mequitta Ahuja’s huge portraits critique and engage the tradition of painting and the greater art historical canon. By featuring masterly rendered images of black women, primarily self-portraits in classical poses, the collection produces what Ahuja terms, “meaningful fictions,” to make atypical subjects, and the typically unnoticed compositional and aesthetic conventions of early figurative painting more visible." CONTINUE READING
More Sondheim Info:
The Walters and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts are partnering to present the Sondheim Artscape Prize Finalists’ Exhibition, one of summer’s most anticipated events. On view at the Walters Saturday, June 17 through Sunday, August 13, the exhibition showcases the work of the seven finalists competing for the Janet & Walters Sondheim Artscape Prize, a $25,000 fellowship that is awarded each year by an independent panel of jurors to a visual artist or visual artist collaborators living and working in the Greater Baltimore region. This year’s finalists are all based in Baltimore.
The winner will be announced at an award ceremony and reception at the Walters on Saturday, July 15, at 7 p.m., with extended gallery hours from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. This year’s jurors are: Ruba Katrib, curator at SculptureCenter in Long Island City, New York, where she organizes exhibitions, educational and public programs, and publications, and coordinates program presentation; Clifford Owens, a New York-based contemporary artist who works in performance, photography, text, and video; and Nat Trotman, associate curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
The Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is held in conjunction with Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival, and is produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. Artscape runs from July 21 through July 23 along Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street. Additionally, an exhibition of the semifinalists’ work is shown in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Friday, July 21 through Sunday, August 6.
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