BMA Voices is a collection of stories about home, but most importantly they are a collection of stories from you, our guests. The Imagining Home exhibition in the Joseph Education Center is a cross-collection exhibition of objects, sculpture, painting, photography, textiles, and more that highlight the diversity of what the idea of Home can mean to someone. Every Saturday and Sunday, our Gallery Interpreters will be working with the public to identify works in the exhibition that resonate with individuals and their stories. This blog serves as an archived history of those conversations.
Baggage Stand (Ehela)
I am a busker. I play music (solo viola) in public places for tips. I began to do this as I felt more free in my own life, in my own heart, and in my own music. I admited much of the freedom I thought I saw in homeless people I saw through my travels around the country (United States). I voluntarily lived in my car through the Maryland winter, busking to stay warm, save money, connect with people, and do what I love. My radio antenae was my tent post.
Corn, the Food of the Nation, Serve Some Way Every Meal: Appetizing, Nourishing, Economical
My grandmother moved from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to DC as a young woman so that she could work at the US Treasury during the day and attend college at Howard University at night. This was at a time when you could still get a BA in Home Economics and she’s still the best cook and tailor I’ve ever known. She rejected a marriage proposal from a doctor because she preferred her independence up North to a domestic life down South. She was giving and strong-willed and not at all easy, especially when it came to food.
This poster made me think about how grits and other corn-based foods were already staples in my grandmother’s community, but once there was a wheat shortage, these foods were then promoted as this wholesome new thing for Americans. When I was little, if I spent the whole day with Gran, she would cook me this enormous Southern breakfast—toast, eggs, grits, and Constant Comment tea with loads of sugar in it. I loved it, but I was also tiny (always the smallest kid in the class) and it was impossible for my stomach to handle. She insisted that I sit there and eat every last bit of what she prepared for me, so I’d sit at the kitchen table for hours trying to swallow just one more bite. The grits always got cold and congealed on the plate which made it even harder to gag them down. The worst was hearing her footsteps as she came down the hall at about 11:30 knowing that she was about to start preparing lunch while I was still engaged in battle with this gigantic plate of food. Crazy thing is, I still love grits. At least I can eat them fast enough now so they never congeal.
I have lived close to the BMA for many years, and the “Imagining Home” exhibit is the best example I have ever seen of the close relationships between the museum’s art and the community. Bravo!
Susan Harbage Page
Nest (Hiding Place), Laredo, Texas
In my backyard back home, there’s a big tree that attracts all the nearby creatures – robins, neighborhood squirrels and rabbits… Everyone who comes by always comments on the tree, especially during the spring, when it is adorned with pink and white flowers. I like to look outside for the infrequent visitors – the blue jay. I feel so lucky when I see it. The tree is also usually littered with nests, used and ready to be used. As I navigate my second year of college, I am reminded of these makeshift homes of twigs and leaves. I wonder if I have made my own nest, collecting bits of memories, snapping them to fit the mold of a new tree, a new city. I wonder if what I have made is strong enough to withstand the wind, the new storms. I wonder how much I’ll miss this nest when I am gone. I hope that I have learned enough about how to make a nest in a new place, as I know I’ll be using this skill for a while.
2011 – 2012
I love how this piece engages me to read, to pay attention to pedestrian things. It is personal, and I feel at home in poetry; words deeply affect me. The shower curtain envelops me. I am safe here. It is as though I’m watching rain pour outside the windows in my room. I pause and am free to feel, think.
Eugene and Henry Kupjack
Domestic Interior in a Shaker Commuinity, 1800 – 1815
It made me think about what life was like before I was born. The furniture was really detailed, and it was really realistic. It made me compare my life and theirs. I think even outside the windows are carefully planned and built. This interior was a great example of life in 1820 -1860.
Eugene and Henry Kupjack
Urban New England Dining Room, 1800 – 1815
I moved around a lot when I was younger, so home was always a thought, emotion, or a memory. Not having the physical space made me reflect internally, constantly dreaming about that perfect dream home. A dog, named Scooter, white picket fence, polished silverware so I could host huge dinner parties, all the good stuff. I guess I wanted to be a princess in a pretty castle all to myself and a very cute dog. Later in life I moved in with my parents and found it hard to just be in one place for so long after moving so much, but in the end I got more than my dog and castle; I got a very beautiful home with an amazing family.
Walter Henry Williams
I’ve lived in a lot of different places across Baltimore, mostly in the same neighborhoods, just a lot of different houses. My favorite part of any house and all Baltimore summers is hanging out on the porch. My homes that hold the fondest memories are the ones that had a good porch. Because of the size, a porch is automatically an intimate space. Gathering here with friends on a beautiful night is like nothing else, seeing all your neighbors doing the same. I’m an artist in Baltimore and very proud to say that I recently became a homeowner. Baltimore is an amazing city where artists can actually do this. I looked for 9 months, it took a really long time and way more disappointment than I was ready for. I knew high on my list of what I was looking for was a good porch. When I moved in, it was the middle of the summer, prime time porch time. It was an amazing feeling to sit out there with my friends knowing everything I went through, the sacrifices, the work, during the last year to make this porch mine.
Last year, I had just gotten kicked out and simultaneously broken up with. That was the end of two relationships. I moved in with my best friend and we filled the void with cooking. It was like the more food got chopped, the less my heart did. I healed through avoidance kind of, because cooking and ignoring my own shortcomings helped everything hurt less. Life moved on, so did I, and things began to change again; I found myself repeating this process except now I don’t have a cutting board or a best friend. Just a boyfriend, a mom and a cat that seemingly feel bad for me.
Frances Benjamin Johnston
Wye Plantation or Paca House, Queen Anne County, Maryland
Ever since graduating college in 2013, I have lived a nomadic life. I’ve had many jobs and moved 9 times. I spent a lot of time in Sullivan County, NY, about 2 hours northwest of NYC. Sullivan County, while in a beautiful part of the country, has many abandoned homes. Most recently, I have moved to East Baltimore where I have seen similar issues. Blocks and blocks of abandoned row houses. I am new to this community but it is my home now. I have grown to love it more and more as time passes and as I meet more beautiful people. I am originally from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I lived there from age 7 to age 22. That was my home. Home is still my parent’s house on the top of the hill. I will always love my home. Now that I’ve lived in many places and seen houses that are boarded up and overgrown, it breaks my heart. What happened? Why has no one moved back? Why did former owners leave? If walls could talk, right? There may be some who know once roamed the walls, but for now, only imagination can tell. I imagine living there. I imagine a family there. I imagine having the funds tho breather life back into the space. Unrealistic, sure, but I’m a dreamer. I hope. I go home to my apartment in East Baltimore, thankful for where I am and I wonder where I shall call home next.
Frances Benjamin Johnston
Mills Point, St. Mary’s County, Maryland
There’s something about wide, open, seemingly “empty” spaces that reminds me of where I’m from. Or at least how I thought about my home as a child and the small city I grew up in. Frances Benjamin Johnston’s work “Mills Point” strikes me as the style in which my mother likes to keep your family house – grand and like no one lives there. As if its a show house ready for an open house at anytime. My parents are truly big hearted people but striving towards perfection in a space that’s function is typically associated with comfort, nesting, and relaxation is frustrating, ya know?