Category Archives: Imagining Home

Home Stories Profiles: Michelle Gomez and Anthony Summers

Anthony Summers and Michelle Gomez

Anthony and Michelle lived with a reproduction of The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz for one month.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month? Home Stories is our quest to find out…

Partners Michelle Gomez and Anthony Summers live at the intersection of two neighborhoods in North Baltimore, and it seems their lives are, at least in part, shaped by intersections. Michelle is an independent curator and arts organizer and Anthony is an art-lover working in finance. Their home is filled with beautiful objects they have made and collected alongside tomes on economics and books on cultural theory and art history. Their responses to The Steerage were very different, yet complementary, emerging from the intersections of art, finance, migrant experience, and activism.

When you visit Imagining Home at the BMA you’ll have the opportunity to watch a video of Michelle and Anthony with The Steerage alongside two households that also lived with it.

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal "291" (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915. Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal “291” (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915.
Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm., Image: 333 x 264 mm. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home.

A Short History of Epic Pillow Forts

Since the dawn of time, humans have been rearranging their stuff. Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Great Pyramids, can all be seen as the results of people deciding to move their things around. As soon as couch cushions, chairs, and blankets were available, someone was probably combining these pieces in ways that they were never intended to be combined. People (of all ages) use furniture and fabric to make forts within their homes for a lot of reasons, but most of these boil down to a need find some temporary refuge from everyday life. If the home is a shelter, then the pillow fort is a shelter within the shelter, an interior within the interior. The pillow fort is defensible space, but it is not made of hard warlike materials. Instead it is soft, the comfortable, inviting ordinary stuff of the home is rearranged into new configurations to make new kinds of space. The pillow fort has a whimsical legibility, it reads as both the castle and the couch at the same time, and it invites us to engage with it, to use it, and to remake it. This making and remaking is extra fun with company. Just like in full size home-building (or Stonehenge building), the creation of the pillow fort needs extra hands present, if only to balance the couch cushions while the blanket is draped over the top.

A sketch of the BMA's pillow fort activity

A sketch of the BMA’s pillow fort activity

The pillow fort uses many of the same construction methods present in domestic architectural history. First a site must be chosen and prepared. Low heavy space can be made by stacking things, and higher, lighter space is defined by adaptable frames. Modular textiles can wrap around all of this and create enclosure, with openings back to the outside world. No pillow fort, or house, is complete without something like a hearth. People need light, entertainment, and the social space that’s created around an active center like a fireplace, ipad, or flashlight…

For The Baltimore Museum of Art’s first Art After Hours event, come join us in the collaborative construction of a giant pillow fort in the Museum’s East Lobby. The event will include live music, local food and beer, and other activities in conjunction with the Imagining Home exhibition. Baltimore is our home, and the BMA invites you to come and make yourself at home here for the evening. We’ll make a temporary home within the lobby, come participate in person, and follow along with the hashtag #BMApillowfort on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The pillow fort will be up over the weekend, but we hope you’ll be comfortable and cozy enough to come back anytime!

– Fred Scharmen and Marian April Glebes

Postcards from Imagining Home

My home begins anywhere I can run fast and without fear of capture. My home is a bag on my back and a bike under my legs. The world jostles for my attention and I move move move. My home is my body.

My home begins anywhere I can run fast and without fear of capture. My home is a bag on my back and a bike under my legs. The world jostles for my attention and I move move move. My home is my body.

I used to think my roles only consisted of things like retrieving the chicken's eggs. But now I understand it goes far beyond that. I know my roles include loving my gay brother and making things right with my dad.

I used to think my roles only consisted of things like retrieving the chicken’s eggs. But now I understand it goes far beyond that. I know my roles include loving my gay brother and making things right with my dad.

It is in a country and a city where you are free to walk outside your home and go where you will, say what you want, think or write what you want without fear that your door will be battered down by oppressors. At home, you have enough to eat and you are safe.

It is in a country and a city where you are free to walk outside your home and go where you will, say what you want, think or write what you want without fear that your door will be battered down by oppressors. At home, you have enough to eat and you are safe.

Your home is inside of you. You take it everywhere and no one can take it away from you. It is what you believe, love, stand for.

Your home is inside of you. You take it everywhere and no one can take it away from you. It is what you believe, love, stand for.

As the oldest child in a Korean-American home, I play the role of the dependable "son" my parents never had. Clearly a daughter and oldest sister, I also play the role as my sister's 2nd mother due to her being 7 years younger than me. Those are my roles.

As the oldest child in a Korean-American home, I play the role of the dependable “son” my parents never had. Clearly a daughter and oldest sister, I also play the role as my sister’s 2nd mother due to her being 7 years younger than me. Those are my roles.

Somewhere to rest my bones with the ones I love.

Somewhere to rest my bones with the ones I love.

These postcards were submitted as part of an activity in the BMA’s Imagining Home exhibition. Visitors are invited to write a postcard responding to questions about what home means to them, and then the postcards are mailed to other BMA visitors. Anyone who would like to receive a postcard can submit their address.

Home Stories Profiles: Detwiler Household

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detwiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month? Home Stories is our quest to find out…

Dan Detwiler and his son Drew come to the BMA’s Free Family Sundays events regularly. Drew is an avid artist, and their home is filled with his drawings, paintings, and sculptures. He recently made a series of drawings of great buildings from around the world, such as the Leaning Tower of Piza and the Eiffel Tower, which he complemented with a futuristic imaginary city built of Legos that includes two towering restaurants, a city hall, an art museum (of course), and more.

Dan and Drew got the shower curtain for their Home Stories artwork because they were one of the most adventurous families to participate in this project. It’s no easy thing to live with a huge artwork in your most private room, least of all one that addresses you each time you read it.

Here we have a special treat: an extended video of Dan and Drew talking about their experiences living with this incredible shower curtain.

When you visit Imagining Home at the BMA you’ll have the opportunity to watch a video of Dan and Drew with Issue 16 of Thing Quarterly alongside another household that also lived with it.

You can also listen to three participants in the Home Stories project, including Dan, read the text on the shower curtain:

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home.

Home Stories at the BMA

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detweiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month?
Home Stories is the BMA’s quest to find out.

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition in the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center, is an exploration of the multitude of ways that people around the world think about home. We thought it would be interesting to include a project based around art in the home because so many of the artworks in the exhibition were originally intended to be displayed in homes. Home Stories was conceived as a program in which households from across Baltimore would live with artwork reproductions for about a month, and then we would interview them about their experience.

Eleven households were selected from across the Baltimore area, with an eye towards diversity in age, race, class, neighborhood, and household composition. The participants also brought a great range in experience with art, from novice collectors and makers to experienced artists and curators. This diversity in perspectives allowed us to explore a wonderful variety of responses to the artworks.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the "Rich and Poor" Series by Jim Goldberg.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” Series by Jim Goldberg.

We hypothesized that this would be a very personal experience for the participants and that each household would have a unique experience. We also hoped that living with artwork reproductions would lead participants to think about art in a new way. Our expectations were wildly exceeded on both counts.

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” series by Jim Goldberg

The artworks selected for this project include the colorful painting A Quick Nap by Walter Williams, the detailed photograph The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz, a set of four annotated photographs from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg, and Issue 16 from The Thing, which is a shower curtain with text by Dave Eggers. Each of these works presented different challenges for participants. The Williams is big, but very charming. The Stieglitz is a bit smaller with details that make you want to get up close and examine it. The Goldbergs are emotionally challenging because the annotations are very personal and often sad. The shower curtain is, well, a shower curtain—imagine a piece of art that big in the place where you bathe!

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for "The Steerage."

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for “The Steerage.”

Over the next several months, we’re going to share some our Home Stories with you here on the blog. You can also visit the BMA to see the art, and watch the Home Stories videos to discover for yourself what our participants experienced.