June 28: Kara Walker & Hank Willis Thomas

Typically reserved for one screen-based work at a time, the BMA's next Black Box installation brings together separate works by Kara Walker and Hank Willis Thomas, two artists who, over the course of their careers and in multiple disciplines, have been interrogating what it's like and what it means to be black in America. This work can (and probably should) be hard to swallow; in a recent profile of Walker for New York Magazine, Doreen St. Félix wrote: "Out of the appalling details of slavery-era subjugation—the contour of a disembodied male arm emerging from a girl-child’s skirt, a master’s penis approaching the slack maw of a slave-woman—Walker makes commanding work that hews not to the black bourgeois ethic of psychic uplift nor to the art-world tradition of producing to market." Walker's 'Salvation' (2000), one of her cut-paper installations depicting a black silhouetted woman about to drown in a swamp as ominous shadows threaten her, will be installed alongside Thomas' 'And I Can't Run' (2013), a photographic piece that doesn't look like much at first until you take a picture of it with your cell phone with flash, revealing "a black man shackled before aggressive white onlookers." The two works together, according to the BMA, "start a critical conversation . . . on slavery’s legacy" and they are to do this, in part, by putting physical and psychological threat or violence (or the suggestion of them) on display. Through March 18, 2018, the Baltimore Museum of Art's Black Box, 10 Art Museum Drive, (443) 573-1700, artbma.org, free. (Rebekah Kirkman)

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