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BMA exhibit reimagines domestic experience

Home is “the only battlefield worth fighting for.” This was one of the phrases projected on the floor at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s exhibit titled “Imagining Home” that opened on Oct. 25, 2015.

The projections change as the exhibit grows older. Each guest is invited to answer the question of what home means to them on the iPads that are situated throughout the exhibit. This unique experience is created by visitors, for visitors.

“Imagining Home” explores a wide range of emotions related to various cultural definitions of home, “whether decorative or functional, real or ideal, celebratory or critical,” according to the BMA.

Everything from a Medusa door knocker, to a multimedia presentation of hotel room activities, to a photograph depicting a woman defined by her household duties, is represented in this showcase. Each draws on different aspects of the human experience and each relies on a different facet of the concept of home, often prompting the viewer to question their own definition of home.

While many pieces are literal illustrations of houses – there are even miniature recreations of vintage rooms – some artists have altered common household items, transforming everyday objects into modern relics of tragedy, loss and love.

Writer Starlee Kine engraved a cutting board for THE THING Quarterly — a periodical where artists recreate useful household objects, transforming them into art pieces. The cutting board tells a story of heartbreak. It says, “‘Has there been one night where you have gotten drunk and kicked over a potted plant, sick with the realization that you have lost me?’”

This question, along with a string of other questions engraved on the board, ends with, “The onion, of course, didn’t answer. It really had you down.” It is this balance between the practical and the emotional that encompasses Imagining Home.

Carolyn Brady’s “Letter’s From Home” is a still life showing a table setting of a radio, books, a fruit basket and flowers. It, like many of the pieces, was accompanied by a soundscape, recorded in Florence, Italy, of muffled voices and objects being moved, similar to what one would hear in any kitchen. Each of these soundscapes were recorded in the place where the art was made.

Another exclusive facet of the exhibit is the BMA’s incorporation of “The Outpost,” a traveling exhibition that invites everyone to express themselves artistically. Both children and adults painted or colored pictures showcasing their unique experiences at home.

Many of the pictures displayed the creator’s family dynamic, while some illustrated a deeper need for protection. One in particular was a drawing of a house getting rained on, despite the presence of the sun, which stated, “Home is not where you live is [sic] about where you survive.”

It is these pieces that evoke the rawest of human emotions. The exhibit prompts each visitor to experience and question both ancient and modern, global definitions of “home.”

The exhibit, curated by Director of Interpretation and Public Engagement Gamynne Guillotte and Associate Curator of European painting and sculpture Oliver Shell, will be available for all to enjoy until Aug. 1, 2018.