It was 118 years ago that black sociological pioneers W.E.B. DuBois and Thomas Calloway presented a new face for the African-American to the world, showcasing a series of studio portraits of the black middle class from Georgia at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. In the 21st century, local photographer Antonio McAfee is putting a new face on their time-honored work here in Baltimore through a series of transformations—first through colored holograms, and now through abstract collage.
McAfee’s latest exhibition, “Theme and Variation,” takes a series of those historic, dignified likenesses and morphs them, reshaping their faces and bodies as a form of reinterpretation. It’s part of a series of shows—others including “Through the Layers” at Baltimore’s Terrault Contemporary last summer and “Old Bad Air” at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington D.C.—in which he’s played with the form.
BmoreArt captured some of the mystique in a review of the latter show in February, posing of one of the distorted portraits: “Is this image revealing, or does it hide more than it shows? Whose ancestor is this and whose memory does she belong to?”
The exhibition premieres tonight at the Institute of Contemporary Art Gallery in Station North. McAfee will appear for an artist talk on the show Sept. 15.
7-9 p.m., ICA Gallery, 16 W. North Ave., icabaltimore.org/artist/antonio-mcafee.
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