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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Dr. Leana Wen, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and former Baltimore City Helath Commissioner, and filmmaker and journalist Whitney Mallett.
Mickalene Thomas' immersive two-story installation will transform the BMA's East Lobby into a living room for Baltimore. The experience will extend onto an enclosed terrace where the BMA will host a series of events, such as film screenings, artist talks, performances, workshops, book clubs, and self-care seminars. Influenced by the 1970s and 1980s, Thomas' signature aesthetic incorporates geometric patterns, prints, textures, wood paneling, and shag carpeting, among other nostalgic motifs.
The Baltimore Chamber Jazz Society launches its 2019-2020 season with a concert by the Steve Davis Correlations Sextet. Trombone ace Davis brings a multi-generational band of top-tier musicians to Baltimore to perform a set of inspired new tunes and fresh arrangements of jazz standards. The Correlations Sextet includes Joshua Bruneau on trumpet/flugelhorn, Wayne Escoffery on tenor sax, Dezron Douglas on bass, Jonathan Barber on drums, and Xavier Davis on piano.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, a strict gendered division of artistic labor existed throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Men worked in wood and metal, carving and casting works that glorified leaders and paid homage to deities, while women created works in clay, cloth, and beads, stitching and firing the art of everyday life. This exhibition brings together two dozen works from the BMA's collection to demonstrate the critical role of women in shaping and maintaining social identities across 20th-century Africa.