Tag: conceptual art

Scavange this Saturday at the AVAM’s Barn Sale


Some of the greatest finds are found in the weirdest of places.  Wonderful pieces of jewelry come from the world’s dingiest street markets, and that painting you never knew you needed is generally in that random antique store you’ve only stepped in once in your life.  The main reason to even go to this sort of thing is to discover just what you’ve been missing your entire life.  Thankfully, the people who bring you the Kinetic Sculpture Race every May, and a multitude of other wonderful programs throughout the year at the American Visionary Arts Museum, are throwing a Barn Sale this Saturday.  From 9:00a – 4:00p, bring your own reusable bags and fill them to the brim with deals on the wonderful, absurd, and quixotic.  As they say on their site, ” Help us clear out our hoard & get your hands on some amazing artwork, books, cards & publications, copiers, computers & office supplies, vintage & not so vintage Apple equipment, retro AVAM & Kinetic memorabilia, plenty of art fixins, & loads more… it’s a picker’s paradise! Free & Open to the public, cash & credit accepted, all proceeds benefit AVAM.”

100 Survivors: Breast Cancer Boldly Self-Documented


Interdisciplinary artist Julia Kim Smith struck up a fast friendship with fellow artist Francesca Danieli, a celebrated collage-maker in 2002, when the women, who both had pre-first-grade daughters at Bryn Mawr, met at their girls’ soccer game and realized they were both professional creatives building life and work in Baltimore. They began attending each other’s shows. In 2004, Julia, a Baltimore Fishbowl resident artist, invited Francesca, and writer David Beaudouin, to collaborate on a video called “One Nice Thing,” shot at that year’s Democratic National Convention — Julia says it posed the plucky question, “Can one party say one nice thing about the opposition and really mean it?” The film screened at White Box in New York as part of the “Six Feet Under: Make Nice” exhibition.

That same year Francesca’s breast cancer returned for the third time. Two years later, she died at 52. Though their close friendship was tragically short-lived, Franscesca and Julia’s most emotionally daring collaboration endures today. An evolution of Francesca’s photography exhibition—displayed at MICA and the Creative Alliance, and posthumously at Centerstage—which documented 10 women with metastatic breast cancer, 100 Survivors invites women with breast cancer to photograph and write about themselves according to an itemized list of “tags”–starting with a close photo of the face–in an empowering and expressive gesture that speaks less of happy endings than complex and truthful present-tense resolve. (Please scroll down to see the photos.)

We talked to Julia about the conceptual series that lives on.

Tell me what moves you most about 100 Survivors — and how did the idea emerge/expand out of your two-person collaboration?

Francesca and I hoped the project would give her and all the women in the project some power and control over what was going on… Many of the photos appear mundane on the surface but function on a deeper, metaphoric or symbolic level when paired with the writing. I think that’s what makes the work powerful and moving.

Are the women who submit photos non-artist civilians for the most part — where the creative project is concerned, what tends to be the most significant challenge for them?

A few of the women are artists (Francesca, Carole Jean, Ilene, Charlotte) but most aren’t. The biggest challenge, for the non-artist, is to not obsess over creating “Art” with a capital “A” and to simply document their own lives at time when they are vulnerable. Photograph and write about what they know.

What did you and Francesca expect would be the most important outcome (or emotional payoff) of each woman’s self-portrait shoot?

The first tag, 1. my face (daily), is probably the hardest to shoot and the one most women flinch at.  Facing one’s own face, literally facing one’s own face, is just hard!  Women tend to be critical of their own faces and bodies.  We hoped the tag would lead women to really look at themselves with an unflinching gaze and accept.  Many did.

You currently have 31 photographer participants, correct? When you reach 100 will you begin again?

It’s 30 — we are checking on one woman’s release form.  I can’t even contemplate reaching 100 women. Francesca and I almost randomly came up with a title for the project, 100 Survivors.  It doesn’t matter if we get there.  What matters is the women and what they choose to document.  Hope that makes sense.  I work with all the women — I can’t think of them as numbers.

Any advice to breast cancer survivors who want to participate but feel timid?

Most of the women who start the project begin by announcing they aren’t very good at photography. I encourage them to shoot a lot and edit later — digital cameras, cell phone cameras have made photography more accessible.

What has feedback been like from women with cancer?

We’ve heard from women who either have been to the exhibitions or visited the website that 100 Survivors fills a void; it is what they need to get through the night.

Have you seen other artists work in response to illness, in ways that inspire you?

Writers inspire me: Barbara Ehrenreich and Peggy Orenstein. In Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, Ehrenreich recounts her own experience with breast cancer. “Breast cancer, I can now report, did not make me prettier or stronger, more feminine or spiritual,” writes Ehrenreich. “What it gave me, if you want to call this a ‘gift,’ was a very personal, agonizing encounter with an ideological force in American culture that I had not been aware of before — one that encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune, and blame only ourselves for our fate.” Orenstein, the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, today writes about body image issues — in one piece, she critiques and questions the sexualization of breast cancer awareness movements. In the late 90s, she published in The New York Times a straightforward journal detailing her experience dealing with breast cancer at 35.”

Provocative New Resident Artist Julia Kim Smith


We are so psyched to announce Baltimore Fishbowl’s newest resident artist, Julia Kim Smith, a conceptual visionary whose work explores identity, memory and the artistic, social and political landscape. Julia is an interdisciplinary maker, switching deftly between performance, video, film, photography, and printmaking.

We love the way Julia’s images make us think, shudder and laugh, sometimes all at once. Recently, her amusing Shepard Fairey-esque tribute to Tiger Mother author Amy Chua got us grinning, and talking up a storm. 

Her newest photo series, “With Banksy,” in which Julia portrays herself hanging in domestic settings with Banksy, the faceless (he covers up), in-your-face legendary street artist, is a cool example of her uniquely brainy-funny-edgy-naughty style.

“Banksy pulls off no small feat by being both the anonymous artist and the famous artist at the same time,” Julia says. “But by being anonymous, he is like the historical anonymous woman—‘Anonymous was a woman’—and anyone can appropriate his identity. Which is exactly what I did in With Banksy: I appropriated his hooded identity and placed him in my own scenarios. Why should famous white men have all the fun?”

As the co-founder and curator of the 100 Survivors project–a collaborative photo and video project for women currently in treatment for breast cancer or diagnosed in the past three years–Julia is currently working with Linked By Air in New York on the development of the website, 100survivors.org, a permanent monument and archive. The site is scheduled to go live in October.

Julia’s debut show at the Creative Alliance, in collaboration with writer David Beaudouin, in 2003, which explored the post-9/11 American psyche, was hailed by Glenn McNatt in The Baltimore Sun as “a stupendous achievement of minimalist, conceptual art that ought to forever lay to rest that such work is no more than a dry intellectual exercise.” Other shows include White Box, New York City, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825, The LAB, San Francisco, Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC, The Metro Gallery, Station North, Maryland Art Place, Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina, Buenos Aires, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, and Aguilar Branch of the New York Public Library, New York City. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and three children.

Look for Julia’s first gallery sampling on our website July 1st–see Media Gallery, and enjoy.