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February 18, 2022
by Teri Henderson, BmoreArt
 
It’s rare to enter a gallery and be invited to physically interact with the art. But at tet[R]ad: Cultivating Collaborative Creative Community, that is the whole point. Developed by a duo of artists/researchers, David R. Modler and Samuel H. Peck, tet[R]ad is an ongoing project that connects people through a visual diary/sketchbook exchange. For this exhibition, Modler and Peck worked with Baltimore-born artist Desmond Beach on an immersive installation that transforms Maryland Art Place’s gallery into a colorful collaborative classroom. Every surface is covered in neons and primary hues, beckoning visitors to contribute and converse with the artist-organizers. 
 
Beach holds an MFA from MICA’s Rinehart School of Sculpture and focuses his mixed-media artistic practice on African storytelling and the legacy of the African Diaspora. For the installation, Beach created several life-sized drawings: sloping, graphite outlines of Black women and men. At first, I thought the buckets of markers and crayons surrounding the drawings were sculptural elements, until I was told that the drawings had recently traveled to a classroom in Baltimore where a group of students colored them in. I was floored and hesitant to know that I could color and add to the drawings. I felt a bit nervous, so I didn’t add anything then—the opportunity to physically add to the art was new to me. I’ve found myself feeling increasingly plugged into the matrix lately, and this was a chance to disengage from the digital and re-ground myself with the analog. I’m excited by the possibility of adding my own marks before the show closes.
 
There was nearly too much for me to take in on my first visit: outlines of smiling faces, seemingly spray-painted, walls containing shelves of journals that can be borrowed and returned. Stories everywhere, layered like paint on a canvas. Ephemera, photographs, small journals full of stickers and drawings, layers of paper and cardboard covered with markings—these things that traveled from other variations of the project are displayed alongside Beach’s drawings.
 
Nearly every moment of the exhibition offers the viewer a chance to create something. Tet[R]ad reimagines the traditionally passive gallery-going experience into one that is dynamic, bright, and encouraging. By removing preconceived notions of what it means to make and view art, it invites visitors to engage with the work of all involved: the curators, artists, and each other. The show was invigorating, allowing me to reimagine what forms an exhibition can take and reminding me that art can be fun.

SK8R Girls: Photo Essay

January 26, 2022

Words: Suzy Kopf, BmoreArt

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s in Virginia’s apple country, E. Brady Robinson spent a lot of time roller skating around the cement basement of her parents’ split-level, listening to Soul Train. Everything from The Commodores’ “Easy,” to The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” blared as Robinson spun around and around, suspended in the cinematic limbo of adolescence, sandwiched between what life had been so far and what she imagined adulthood would be. Skating was an escape, a portal to freedom and adulthood.

The closure of gyms and yoga studios during the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for the Baltimore-based photographer, who has always been an athlete, to return to skating. In July 2020, Robinson ordered a pair of Candi Grl skates—white with pink laces and pink wheels—online, citing a need to move. Remembering how empowered skating made her feel as a girl, she hit the streets, meeting up with friends and eventually a wider network of female-identifying Baltimore skaters.

A documentary photographer by trade, Robinson began capturing her companions with their limbs in motion suspended in time, as well as the natural glamour of confident women who are totally in control of their bodies and having fun with that power. Skating is something skaters do just for themselves, just for enjoyment, and that’s what makes it so special. Her subjects dressed for the shoots wearing whatever they felt best in, and the results portray “the beauty that comes from celebrating life through movement and female empowerment,” says Robinson. This series of roller-skating women, called SK8R GRLS, was one of her first occasions to reconnect with people, her favorite subject. The resulting pictures, shot in the studio and outside during the “golden hour,” right before sunset when the light is at its warmest, are evocative of the warm-color gel lights of 20th-century roller rinks.

Capturing the city by including neighborhood landmarks became another goal for Robinson, who spent the earliest days of the pandemic shooting empty streets as an homage to home, with several images included in BmoreArt’s Issue 09. Robinson crisscrossed the city for popular skate spots, shooting at the Druid Hill tennis courts, the Ravens lot behind the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Lake Montebello, and a rooftop garage on Saratoga Street, among other locations. Forever tied to this communal moment of release after long isolation, the images function as both landscapes and portraits. And yet, the skaters themselves are boundless, embodying, for Robinson, the “escape from daily life” that coasting over pavement provides. While roller skating doesn’t erase the trials of the last twenty months, for herself and her subjects, “skating is way better than reality.”

Photo subjects include: Amy Cavanaugh (@amy.cello), Caitlin Gill (@caidylynn), Jade Davis (@bawdbyjade), Tina Thompson (@tthompson843), Brittany Wight (@invertedmermaid), Les Gray (@lesgra.y), Hayley Furman (@visual.intrigue), Jessica Lauryn (@lady_lauryn_), Sophie Kluckhuhn (@sophiekluckhuhn), Wildège François (@_novaaqua), Alexis Ojeda-Brown (@thee_jamdalorian), Barbara Bailey (@relax_withb), Elena Volkova (@thinstring), Sara Autrey (@getshreddedvintage), Alaska Kellum (@alaska.skates), Vickie Walker (@vickiew13), Lean Bean (@legbruiseleah), Dina Fiasconaro (@dfiasco)

E. Brady Robinson is represented by Addison/Ripley Fine Art in Washington, DC. The Sk8r GRLS series will be featured as a solo show at Baltimore’s Hotel Indigo from January 26, 2022 – March 18, 2022. A No Pix After Dark LIVE Interview will be held Thursday, January 27, 2022@ 5:30 pm (limited seating. Please RSVP to Caitlin@mdartplace.org). The SK8R GRLS reception will be held on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022 from 5 to 7pm. Hotel Indigo is located at 24 West Franklin Street. This event is free of charge.

Our Mission

Maryland Art Place (MAP) inspires, supports, and encourages artistic expression through innovative programming, exhibitions, and educational opportunities while recognizing the powerful impact art can have on our community. MAP creates a dynamic environment for artists of our time to engage the public by nurturing and promoting new ideas. MAP has served as a critical resource for contemporary art in the Mid-Atlantic since 1981.

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Phone: 410.962.8565
E-mail: map@mdartplace.org

     
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