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Portraits Re/Examined: A Dawoud Bey Project
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
December 13, 2008 - February 16, 2009
Portraits Re/Examined: A Dawoud Bey Project was presented by the Contemporary Museum in collaboration with the Walters Art Museum. This artist-in-residence project took place in conjunction with the Contemporary’s exhibition of Bey’s Class Pictures. During Bey’s residency project, the artist collaborated with a diverse group of 12 teenagers from several Baltimore-area public, private, and home schools in a summer workshop that began with an exploration of how issues identity have been addressed in portraiture throughout art history. The Walters’ collection became the basis for discussions about museum practice, its role in society and the role of contemporary art in museums with historical collections.
Over the course of day long sessions during one month Bey conceived a project in which the students engaged in two kinds of activities: curating the exhibition of Bey’s photographs, pairing them with objects from the Walters historical collection that resonated with these pictures, creating a complex dialogue between them. Along with this curatorial activity students were also involved in an intensive study of the museum itself, meeting daily with staff from all of the museum’s various departments. The resulting exhibition Portraits Re/Examined: A Dawoud Bey Project, curated by Bey and the teens, featured 10 photographic portraits by Bey, juxtaposed with paintings, drawings, and portrait miniatures from the Walters’ collection to create a unique dialogue. This exhibition project ran concurrently with Class Pictures at the Contemporary Museum, which is located directly across the street from the Walters. A video documenting the project was shown at the Contemporary, further establishing a dialogue between these two very different museums, one which specializes in cutting edge contemporary work and the other an encyclopedic historical museum.
This project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support wass provided by Carol and Alan Edelman, Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff, and The Paige Family Foundation.