BmoreArt’s Picks: August 31 – September 6

BmoreArt’s Picks presents the best weekly art openings, events, and performances happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas.

This Week: We are featuring online events that you can participate in from the comfort of your own couch and some that you can safely leave the house for, plus a few calls for entry to get involved locally and nationally. Stay home, stay healthy, stay engaged in the arts.

BmoreArt’s Picks presents the best weekly art openings, events, and performances happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas. For a more comprehensive perspective, check the BmoreArt Calendar page, which includes ongoing exhibits and performances, and is updated on a daily basis.

To submit your calendar event, email us at!

Tell Our Story, A Tribute to Robert Houston
ongoing through September 20
@ The Reginald F. Lewis Museum

Tell Our Story, A Tribute to Robert Houston is an assemblage of photographs and photographers whose narratives are grounded in compassion and empathy yet focused on contemporary social commentary. As a grouping, the works share similar stories and methods chronicling a collective history.

The exhibition is grounded in Houston’s sense of humanity as seen through various portraitures and expands into the photo documentation of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City where he lived for six weeks documenting the daily lives and activities he saw on the National Mall.

Devin Allen and J.M. Giordano, both Baltimore based photographers, spent time with Houston, discussing the importance of community, building relationships with the subject matter, timing and patience in crafting an image as a social statement. Their contributed images document the beauty and struggle of everyday life, the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, the Freddie Gray uprising and Black Lives Matter protests in Baltimore.

While not directly influenced by Robert Houston, Dee Dwyer, a DC photo biographer, captures the essence and appreciation of community while weaving multi-level narratives. Her images celebrate urban life and record stories of protest and change with grace and humanity, forwarding the legacy of the stylistic perspective of Robert Houston.

Séance: Photographs by Shannon Taggart
Tuesday, August 31 | Ongoing through December 17
@ UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

The Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents Séance: Photographs by Shannon Taggart, on display from August 31 through December 17.

For the past twenty years, American artist Shannon Taggart (born 1975) has documented Spiritualist practices and communities in the United States, England, and Europe. The resulting body of work, Séance, examines the relationship of Spiritualism to human celebrity, its connections to art, science, and technology, and its intrinsic bond with the medium of photography. This exhibition presents forty-seven haunting images from the series, revealing the emotional, psychological, and physical dimensions of Spiritualism in the 21st century.

Spiritualism is a religion born in nineteenth-century America whose adherents believe in communication with spirits, often transmitted through the figure of a medium who receives psychic messages from the dead. Not coincidentally, photography was invented at the same historical moment, when the new technology was revered for its ability to faithfully record reality. Photography thus became a preferred medium of scientific documentation capable of rendering invisible phenomena visible, such as in astronomical photography, X-Rays, and microscopy. For Spiritualists, photography was a tool for revealing the existence of spirits, but for non-believers the ghostly forms that materialized in spirit photographs proved nothing more than darkroom trickery. While this double-sided coin of belief and skepticism haunts the histories of both photography and Spiritualism, Taggart’s photographs do not take sides. The images that comprise Séance are characterized by open-mindedness and empathy toward their subjects, many of whom are brought to Spiritualism through grief and a desire to reconnect with lost loved ones.

The photographs on display explore the communities and phenomena associated with Spiritualism, including séance circles, mediumship, and the objects and technological devices used to aid communication with spirits. Among the most arresting images are those that chart the artist’s quest to capture ectoplasm, a supernatural substance that is paradoxically both spiritual and material. Often made in darkened rooms, the photographs are characterized by otherworldly blurs, chance flares and orbs, and entrancing portraits cast in glowing colors. Taking on the role of participant observer, Taggart bears witness with her camera to an unseen world of belief lying just beyond the fringes of everyday reality.

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