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.
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.
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.
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.