Watch as the brilliant colors in “Tomás Saraceno: Entangled Orbits” transform our East Lobby throughout the day in this time-lapse video captured by Mitro Hood. These iridescent-paneled modules suspended by a net of strings reminiscent of a spider web will be on view at the BMA through July 8, 2018.
Caroline Lampinen: Community Engagement Coordinator
The BMA is excited to introduce the newest member of the Education team, Caroline Lampinen, who joins us as the Community Engagement Coordinator. She works closely with the Manager of Community Engagement, Dave Eassa, to facilitate programming with the BMA Outpost across Baltimore.
What is the BMA Outpost?
The BMA Outpost is a community initiative of the Baltimore Museum of Art, acting as a nomadic and flexible mobile museum that collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders across the city of Baltimore for periods of three months at a time. The Outpost engages communities through artmaking, conversations, and visual connections to the BMA’s physical collection. The Outpost’s democratic and collaborative programming is guided by the overarching theme of “home” and the diverse representations and emotions that each individual can bring to the conversations around home. The BMA Outpost encourages residents to contribute drawings, paintings, ideas, and conversations to build a museum about their community by the community. It becomes a space where the unrecorded conversations and dialogue are just as important as the ideas documented and contributed through visual art.
Who is Caroline?
Caroline grew up in metro-Detroit with a musician father and nurse mother. After earning a BFA in Graphic Design from Western Michigan University, she moved to rural Arkansas where she taught literacy for four years and coached novice teachers for three, earning a Master’s in Educational Leadership along the way. From there she spent a year as an Education Pioneers Fellow at Denver Public Schools. Her passions include building, fostering, and teaching inclusive and equitable practices for all people in all industries; running; spending time with her rescue dog, Blue; and art making.
Visit the Outpost!
Starting Jan. 23, the BMA Outpost will begin its next three-month collaborations with the Loch Raven VA Clinic working with veterans, and at the Cherry Hill Town Center working with the residents of Cherry Hill.
Caroline will be facilitating programming at Cherry Hill Town Center, collaborating with Catholic Charities to turn an unused store front into a dynamic arts and community space for the next three months.
Cherry Hill Town Center Hours:
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.
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.
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?
Follow along as our Gallery Interpreters work with the public every Saturday and Sunday in the Joseph Education Center Galleries at http://blog.artbma.org/bma-voices/.
Need an art break? Take a quick tour of the new exhibition, Beyond Flight: Birds in African Art with Associate Curator of African Art Kevin Tervala.
Beyond Flight presents approximately 20 works from sub-Saharan artists who drew inspiration from the birds that occupied their world. This exhibition explores the varied roles of birds across 19th and 20th-century African states, societies, and cultures. From the largest ostrich to the smallest warbler, the works on view highlight the symbolic meaning and aesthetic appreciation of birds in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Uganda.
Which work is your favorite?
How do you make a path to power where none exists? How do you assess a community’s needs and create access and opportunities for self-determination?
Artist Mark Bradford and BMA Director Christopher Bedford explored these topics and more during the first event of our new series, The Necessity of Tomorrow(s).
On Saturday, November 11th, guests filled the pews of Union Baptist Church to hear Bradford discuss his childhood experiences and lessons learned, his artistic practice, and commitment to community-based work. Doors opened with live performances curated by the Baltimore-based group SunSets with spoken word by Kondwani Fidel and jazz selections by Clarence Ward III & Dat Feel Good band.
The conversation, which was also streamed live at Morgan State University’s Turpin-Lamb Theater, touched on the launch of our upcoming partnership with Bradford, the Greenmount West Community Center (GWCC), and Noisy Tenants to provide skills-based training and equipment to begin a silk-screening project at the GWCC with Baltimore youth.
The Necessity of Tomorrow(s), invites nationally and internationally acclaimed artists and thinkers to Baltimore for conversations on art, race, and justice. The series borrows its title from an essay by science fiction author Samuel Delany who argues for the role of creative speculation in making a more just future. The BMA is encouraging communities throughout Baltimore to come together for these creative conversations.
What’s your tomorrow? How do we get there? Share your thoughts at bmatomorrows.org.
BMA Curatorial Assistant Morgan Dowty took over our Instagram feed this week to showcase some of her favorite images in our renowned Prints, Drawings & Photographs Collection.
In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of her top six picks from the BMA’s collection of 65,000 works on paper:
- Morgan Dowty, BMA Curatorial Assistant, signing on from the Department of Prints, Drawings & Photographs to bring you some of my favorite works on paper this week. With 65,000+ works on paper in the collection, there are plenty to choose from! I’ll begin with a favorite suite of engravings by Wenceslaus Hollar, “Diversa insectorum aligerorum,” c. 1646.
[Wenceslaus Hollar (Bohemian, 1607-1677) “Diversae insectorum aligerorum,” c. 1646. Eight etchings. Each approximately: 115 × 180 mm. (4 1/2 × 7 1/16 in.) Garrett Collection. BMA 1946.112.2413-20]
2. Tantalus, Icarus, Phaeton, and Ixion are four mythological figures whose hubris caused them to fall from Mount Olympia. In this suite of the “Four Disgracers,” Hendrick Golzius, master engraver of the 16th century, captures the falling body from all angles.
[Hendrick Goltzius (Dutch, 1558-1617) after Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (Dutch, 1562-1638). “The Four Disgracers,”1588. Four engravings. Gift of Ruth Cole Kainen, in Honor of Jay McKean Fisher, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, BMA 2005.47 / Gift of James and Leslie Billet, Baltimore, BMA 1983.11 / Blanche Adler Memorial Fund, BMA 2013.357 / Garrett Collection, BMA 1984.81.137]
3. This album by Charles Norman Sladen is a new one of my favorites. On each page, Sladen includes photographs from a family vacation in 1916 to Great Chebeague Island, which he expands through imaginative pen and ink drawings. Scroll right to see some detail shots!
[Charles Norman Sladen (American, 1858-1949). “Great Chebeague Island, Maine,” 1916. Album of black ink drawings and gelatin silver print collages, bound with leather and fabric cover. The William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund. BMA 2001.289]
4. In this self-portrait, Käthe Kollwitz captures her own likeness in just a few precise marks.
[Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945). “Self-portrait,” 1924. Woodcut. Blanche Adler Memorial Fund, BMA 1956.176]
5. Printmakers often pull working proofs, or test prints, as they develop an image to track their progress. Swipe to compare these two states of Felix Bracquemond’s portrait of the French literary critic Edmond de Goncourt.
[Félix Bracquemond (French, 1833-1914). “Edmond de Goncourt,” 1879-1882. Etching. Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Fenwick Keyser, Reisterstown, Maryland, BMA 1997.19 / Purchased as the gift of the Print & Drawing Society, BMA 1983.76]
6. It’s been a treat to share a few of my favorites this week! If you’re interested in exploring more works on paper, consider making an appointment to visit the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Study Room of Prints, Drawings & Photographs by emailing PDP@artbma.org.
[Arthur Wesley Dow (American, 1857-1922) “Group of Buildings, Dow’s Compound, Ipswich,” /”Garden, Dow’s Home, Ipswich,” / “City Island, New York,” c. 1885-1897. Three cyanotypes. Gift of Susan Ehrens, Oakland, California, in Honor of Jay McKean Fisher, BMA 2015.343-345]
Which image is your favorite? Follow us on Instagram at @BaltimoreMuseumOfArt.
The BMA Outpost is the mobile museum of the Baltimore Museum of Art, a flexible and nomadic art making space that works with different communities across Baltimore City for three months at a time.
Every day the Outpost sets up, it builds a Museum around the idea of “Home” and encourages residents to contribute drawings, paintings, ideas, and conversations. It becomes a space where the unrecorded conversations and dialogue are just as important as the ideas documented and contributed through art.
This fall, the BMA Outpost has been in residence in the city’s Remington and Upton neighborhoods, working with Church of the Guardian Angel, R. House, and the Union Baptist Church as host sites.
Talking about the idea of home quickly becomes complex and loaded for everyone. Home is a relationship that can bring up feelings of happiness, confusion, anger, frustration, love, and everything else that could fall on the spectrum of human emotion.
Individuals can have many different associations with the idea, thinking about their nuclear family and place of residence, as well as a more expanded view of how they relate to their community. While our communities are constantly in flux and changing—sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse—art-making and dialogue can help us envision ideal futures and different realities.
Art can be a catalyst for us to ask, “What would a better future look like?” while also recognizing and honoring past histories.
In Remington, the Outpost has been working with Church of the Guardian Angel every Saturday from 10am to 2pm, in conjunction with the Church’s Thrift Store hours, as well as at R. House for “Remington Night” every Thursday from 3pm to 7pm.
Remington as a neighborhood has vastly changed in the last decade, with a major influx of development from companies like Seawall Development. As change happens rapidly, how does a community work together to envision a brighter future that includes everyone? The Outpost poses this question to Remington residents to encourage dialogue across the boundaries of age, gender, class, and others, to not only think about what that brighter future sounds and looks like, but to also develop real actions to move towards those goals. The Outpost strives to create a space for both agreement and dissent, as art-making can be a powerful tool to bring people together and find commonalities.
In Upton, the Union Baptist Church and the BMA Outpost have created a pop-up museum called “Art and Spirit,” which nods to the longstanding histories of the Upton neighborhood, the Church’s home since 1905.
The Upton neighborhood has deep ties and major contributions to African American liberation and autonomy, Civil Rights era activism, community building, and boasts many past residents and architectural structures of historical significance. Dr. Harvey Johnson’s pastoral and civic achievements, and the childhood home of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American individual to serve on the Supreme Court, are just pieces of Upton’s history.
Art and Spirit is inspired by past Soul Schools of the neighborhood, which were unofficial places of thought, organizing, and support in the Upton community. They were places where young people learned from their elders with a deep sense of community as the social fabric. Art and Spirit is a reflection of the creative community of the past, present, and future of Upton. Art and Spirit is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 1pm to 5pm and Thursdays from 8am to 12pm.
The BMA Outpost’s collaborations with the Remington and Upton communities will culminate in an exhibition at R. House highlighting the work created. The exhibition will be on view and open to the public in December 2017.
Beginning in January 2018, the Outpost will begin new collaborations with the Cherry Hill Town Center in south Baltimore, and the Loch Raven VA Clinic in northeast Baltimore through March 2018.
Find the BMA Outpost online HERE.
(Author: Dave Eassa, Manager of Community Engagement at the BMA)
One of the most popular works in the BMA’s collection is Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen by French artist Edgar Degas. The BMA recently received a query about her attire and we are delighted to share BMA Senior Registrar Melanie Harwood’s answers to these questions.
How frequently are the skirt and ribbon changed?
Only when necessary. It’s occurred twice for the skirt and once for the ribbon since the work entered the collection. The skirt that came with the figure in 1943 (presumably the original from the 20’s) deteriorated over time and was augmented with more fabric, cotton wadding and wire in an attempt to keep it somewhat tutu-like. The decision was made in 1979 to replace it entirely and to replace the ribbon which the BMA cast had been missing for some time. The fabric and color of skirt was matched as closely as possible to the remains of the original. The use of a green ribbon is based on a contemporary description of the wax original which refers to the color as “leek green.” Time has caused the green to change to more of a golden hue. The only change was to lengthen the skirt to more closely resemble Degas’ sketches and the common tutus of the time. Classic short tutus were an invention of the 1880s and not commonly in use when Degas sculpted the figure in 1881. The skirt was replaced again in 1998 due to deterioration but the ribbon was not.
Where does the fabric come from?
The fabric is a cotton “tarlatan” (gauze) dyed to a greenish brown and the ribbon is silk. The tarlatan is generally available through theatrical suppliers.
Do all Degas “Little Dancers” have skirts and ribbons?
All Degas “Little Dancers” have skirts, but not all have ribbons. In 1979 I conducted an informal survey of the “Little Dancers”. Out of eleven institutions contacted, four had the original skirts (in deteriorated condition, short, and augmented with cotton and wiring) and six had ribbons of varying colors. The only ribbon that was thought to be original was described as “yellowish” (also interesting as ours has faded from green to “yellowish).
Who changes the skirt and ribbon?
In 1979 the museum did not have a conservator of sculpture so the designer and I took on the project with the oversight of the curators. The second change was handled by the conservators and they would direct any future re-dressings as well.
Are there specifications regarding the way the skirt hangs or the ribbon is tied?
The bronzes were cast from the original wax (now in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington) after Degas’ death and Mlle Jean Fevre, the niece of the artist, dressed the figures in skirts to resemble those on the wax. I’ve never seen images or a contemporary description of these skirts and ribbons. By this time the wax figure was forty years old and I’ve always wondered if the skirt Mlle. Le Fevre was imitating was shortened by age. It’s an interesting exercise as Degas never saw the bronze, but our aim has always been to maintain an appearance as close to the original wax of 1881 and his other dance images as possible.
The BMA’s stunning Aaron Douglas opaque watercolor, Study for Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction, is now on view at the Museum for the first time in nearly a decade. This extraordinary work is being presented in conjunction with the Maryland Humanities 2016 “One Maryland One Book” All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The young adult novel has a character named Rashad who is a high school student inspired by Aaron Douglas’ art:
“Let me describe what his work looks like. Imagine The Lion King. But all the lions are people. Black people. So Simba and Mufasa, are, let’s say, a black king and a prince. Now, imagine that you’re looking at them through the thickest fog ever. So thick that you can’t make out any actual feature on their bodies, but you can still see their silhouettes. So it could be any king. Or any prince. But you can still tell they’re black. That’s Aaron Douglas’s work. And the first time Mrs. Caperdeen [Rashad’s teacher] showed us a slide from his series Aspects of Negro Life, I knew the kind of art I wanted to start making.” (All American Boys, pp. 143-144)
Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) was a pioneering African-American artist whose style contains a multitude of influences: Art Deco and Cubism, African and Egyptian art, spirituals, and jazz. Hailing from Topeka, Kansas with a fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska, Douglas made his way to New York in 1925. There he fell in with the artists, poets, and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance, designing jacket covers and illustrations for publications by the likes of James Weldon Johnson and his good friend (and fellow Kansan) Langston Hughes. Douglas’s striking work led to mural painting—first for private and then for public spaces.
In 1934, Douglas received a commission—the most important of his career—from the Public Works of Art Project, a new federal program, to paint a mural cycle for the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, now known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Douglas’s four-part mural cycle, completed by the year’s end, numbered among 1,400 murals depicting “the American scene” that were created under this New Deal initiative for public spaces throughout the United States. Douglas embraced the challenge. Entitled Aspects of Negro Life, Douglas’s four oil paintings depict an ambitious narrative of black progress, encompassing slavery, Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and the Depression while contending with issues of black identity, the search for freedom, and the power of education.
In 2004, the BMA acquired an extraordinary study for the second mural in this cycle, From Slavery through Reconstruction. Although Douglas made several changes between this drawing and the final painting—a more complex composition with twice as many figures—the narrative arc of rising up from oppression and suffering remains the same.
The frieze-like composition of silhouetted, stylized figures is bookended by scenes of horror and sadness: to the left are shackled, toiling slaves; to the right is a family grieving the loss of a loved one to lynching. These groups frame scenes of emancipatory struggle: at center left, we see a woman with broken shackles and a rifle in hand, none other than Harriet Tubman, conductor of the Underground Railroad; at center right marches a group of helmeted Union soldiers with bayonets over their shoulders, an allusion to the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, one of the first African-American regiments. At the work’s luminous center, a man stands holding a book and pointing to a mountaintop vision with twin symbols of modernity: a skyscraper and a smoke-spewing factory. The entire composition is overlaid with an abstract pattern of translucent, concentric circles, the centermost focusing the eye on the pointing man’s confident stance and gesture.
In his powerful treatment of historical, political, and racial themes, Douglas looked back in time, and also cast his gaze at the Depression-era world around him. Some eight decades later, his work—giving visual form to the hardships and aspirations of African-Americans—still speaks to us with its indelible passion and hope.
Due to the light-sensitive nature of works on paper, Study for Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction will be on view for a limited time in the BMA’s Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing 20th-century gallery. Stop by and see it through December 4, 2016.
Established in 2009 by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund and managed by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), the Baker Artist Awards recognizes the excellence of artists in the Baltimore community. Through significant monetary prizes for winners, the Baker Artist Awards serves artists of all disciplines who live and work in Baltimore City and its five surrounding counties. Area artists nominate themselves by uploading their portfolios onto the Baker Artist Awards website, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of art lovers in nearly every country around the globe. The winners are selected by a panel of jurors.
The BMA has hosted exhibitions of the winners since the inception of the Baker Artist Awards. The artworks presented this year embrace a diverse range of media that includes sculpture, photography, video, music, and mixed media installations, some of which reference the difficult issues of our time.
Each of these artists explores a facet of the world in which we live . We know artworks can evoke many reactions and we invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below about how an artwork in the exhibition changed your thoughts or feelings about contemporary life. The Museum will share these comments with the exhibition organizers—the GBCA and the Baker Foundation.
– Jay Fisher
Images, top to bottom:
Installation views of artworks by Chris Bathgate, Paul Rucker, and Brent Crothers at the BMA. Photos by Mitro Hood.