Between 1964 and 1967, American psychiatrist Dr. Jule Eisenbud conducted experiments with Ted Serios, a man from Chicago with the purported ability to psychically transfer his thoughts onto Polaroid film in a process he named “thoughtography.” Questioning the limits of the human psyche, the supposed objectivity of photography, and notions of scientific neutrality, Mind’s Eye presents a selection of Serios’ mysterious photographs, along with ephemera and experimental data from the Jule Eisenbud Collection on Ted Serios and Thoughtographic Photography, a highlight of the Special Collections at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
With a voice born in the mountains and shaped by the hard times she lived and saw, Ola Belle Reed (1916-2002) established herself as a significant and influential banjo picker, singer, and songwriter of old-time mountain music.
An estimated two million migrants, including Reed and her family, left Appalachia during the Great Depression in search of work in industrial centers of the northern United States. They brought with them ways of life, including musical traditions, that maintained a connection to their southern home and transformed the cultures of their adopted cities.
In 1936, Reed started her career as a professional musician when she joined the North Carolina Ridge Runners, and refined her talent as a member of the New River Boys. With a powerful voice, lyrics that spoke authentically of her rural roots, and her straightforward musical approach, Reed became a groundbreaking solo artist whose passionate songs resonated in the folk-revival movement of the 1960s. As the co-host of a radio program and both a proprietor of and performer at local concert venues, Reed played a critical role in establishing and maintaining a vital bluegrass community along the Mason-Dixon Line. She was a culture bearer who created and helped conserve the unique musical traditions of Appalachia. Reed left an enduring legacy: her 1973 album Ola Belle Reed was added in 2019 to the National Recording Registry, her songs have become anthems of Appalachian life, and she is widely recognized as one of the most influential female bluegrass and folk musicians of all-time.
Co-curated by the Library Gallery’s Curator of Exhibitions Emily Cullen and Media and Communications Studies Professor Bill Shewbridge with Tim Newby, author of Baltimore: The Hard Drivin’ Sound & its Legacy (McFarland and Company, Inc. 2015).
Film Screening: “I’ve Endured”: The music and legacy of Ola Belle Reed
“I’ve Endured,” a concert honoring the music and legacy of Ola Belle Reed
This concert will celebrate Ola Belle’s life and legacy by bringing together musicians and family members who worked with her, along with those who continue to carry on in the tradition of old-time music.
Aaron Siskind (American, 1903–1991) was one of the most influential figures in the development of photography as an art form during the twentieth century. This exhibition, drawn from UMBC’s Photography Collections, traces the formation of this artist’s unique photographic vision from early documentary works made in Harlem as a member of the New York Film and Photo League in the 1930s to his breakthrough explorations of abstraction in the 1940s and 1950s, which led to a sustained investigation of the camera’s capacity to frame new visual forms. The 55 works on display represent every period of the artist’s career, including architectural studies made on Martha’s Vineyard, the exuberant series, Terrors and Pleasures of Levitation, featuring images of divers’ bodies suspended in air, and impressions from his travels throughout Europe and Latin America. Through his photographs and his role as an educator, first at the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and later at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Siskind made an indelible mark on the field, uncovering expressive possibilities from the raw material of reality
Sonya Clark (b. 1967) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores issues of identity, race, cultural heritage, and collective memory. This exhibition presents five works in which Clark applies fiber-art techniques to the medium of hair, a material laden with cultural and metaphorical significance. In these works, strands of hair represent ancestral bonds, hairstyles connote intimacy and convey Black visibility and identity, and combs bare teeth to show how hair has been an instrument of political resistance across the African diaspora. Clark interweaves her material with historical, literary, and musical allusions ranging from the biography of Madam C. J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire, whose wealth derived from her business selling hair care products to Black women, to the hymn “Life Every Voice and Sing,” known as the unofficial Black National Anthem. Engaging craft traditions, Clark unravels the narrative threads that bind issues of contemporary importance to the past and refashions potent cultural symbols from everyday objects.
This exhibition was made possible in collaboration with Goya Contemporary Gallery and Sonya Clark
Cover Image: Sonya Clark, Hair Craft Project with Dionne, 2014. Pigment print on archival paper, 29 x 29 inches. Courtesy Goya Contemporary Gallery and Sonya Clark.
Harmonies of Liberty: Artist talk with Sonya Clark
In this talk, held in conjunction with the Dresher Center for the Humanities Daphne Harrison Lecture, artist Sonya Clark will discuss artwork inspired by the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” –work that she has produced in harmony with musicians that centers collaboration, innovation, craft, and design as a means to uplift suppressed voices.
Co-sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Department of Visual Arts; the Center for Innovation, Research, and Creativity in the Arts; and the Department of Africana Studies.
Image:Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, 2021. Diptych made of pigment print on punctured piano paper. 11 1/4 x 14in. each. Courtesy Goya Contemporary Gallery and Sonya Clark.
Biography:Sonya Clark is Professor of Art at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Previously, she was a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts and Commonwealth Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she served as chair of the Craft/Material Studies Department from 2006 until 2017. In 2016, she was awarded a university-wide VCU Distinguished Scholars Award. Her work has been exhibited in over 350 museum and galleries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. She is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship, a Pollock Krasner award, an 1858 Prize, an Art Prize Grand Jurors Award, and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award. Most recently, she was an inaugural recipient of the Black Rock Senegal Residency Fellowship.
Most prisons and jails across the United States do not allow prisoners to have access to cameras. At a moment when an estimated 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the U.S., 3.8 million people are on probation, and 870,000 former prisoners are on parole, how can images tell the story of mass incarceration when the imprisoned don’t have control over their own representation? How can photographs visualize a reality that disproportionately affects people of color, and, for many, remains outside of view? Coinciding with ApertureMagazine’s issue, “Prison Nation,” this exhibition addresses the unique role photography plays in creating a visual record of this national crisis, despite the increasing difficulty of gaining access inside prisons.
Since its early years, photography has been used to create and reinforce typologies of criminality, often singling out specific groups of people. Today, it is essential for photographers to provide urgent counterpoints and move beyond simplistic descriptions of the “criminal” or the imprisoned. Much of the work gathered here—from a recently discovered archive at San Quentin in California to portraits of prisoners participating in a garden program at Rikers Island in New York City or performing a passion play at Louisiana’s Angola prison, a facility located on the site of a former slave plantation—underscores the humanity and individuality of those incarcerated. Some projects explore the prison as an omnipresent feature of the American landscape, often serving as a local economic engine, or delve into the living conditions and social systems of prisons, while others address the difficult process of reentering society after incarceration. One series was produced in prison: Jesse Krimes made hundreds of image transfers with prison-issued soap while he served a five-year sentence.
Incarceration impacts all of us. Americans, even those who have never been to a prison or had a relative incarcerated, are all implicated in a form of governance that uses prison as a solution to many social, economic, and political problems. Empathy and political awareness are essential to creating systemic change—and through this exhibition, and the accompanying series of public programs, “Prison Nation” may provoke us to see parts of ourselves in the lives of those on the inside.
Prison Nation is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York. Nicole R. Fleetwood and Michael Famighetti, curators.
This exhibition was made possible with lead support from the Ford Foundation. Additional generous support was provided by the Reba Judith Sandler Foundation.
Cover Image: Stephen Tourlentes, Wyoming State Death House Prison, Rawlins, Wyoming, 2000, from the series Of Length andMeasures: Prison and the American Landscape, 1996–ongoing. Courtesy the artist andCarroll and Sons, Boston
Panel Discussion: Art From the Inside
September 27th, 5-7pm
Lorenzo Steele Jr., Lynn Cazabon, Oletha DeVane and Tadia Rice will discuss their experiences working with incarcerated individuals and the importance of art in giving a face to those behind bars.
Zora J Murff, Megan at 16, 2014, from the series Corrections, 2013–15. Courtesy the artist.