Nearly 400 people visited the JMM yesterday (Sunday, February 13) for a spectacular event, the opening of Loring Cornish: In Each Other’s Shoes. This art exhibit features local artist, Loring Cornish whose impressive large scale mosaics, paintings, and sculptures incorporate found objects, symbols, and words that probe the notion of identity and memory and often refer to major historical events such as the civil rights movement, slavery, and the Holocaust.
The audience in attendance at yesterday’s event included a broad cross section of Baltimoreans – black, white, Jewish, Christian, artists, students, young, old, families with young children, first-time visitors to the JMM, and long time members. The diversity of attendees truly reflected the inclusive vision of Loring’s work echoing his expressed desire to use this exhibition as a way to “bridge the differences between people.” A brief program included remarks by JMM president, David Liebman; program director, Ilene Dackman-Alon; MICA professor and curator, Dr. Leslie King-Hammond; curator Karen Falk; and executive director, Avi Decter. Everyone spoke eloquently about the impact and importance of Loring’s work.
The main focus of the opening, was, of course, on the artist himself who even managed to look like one of his artworks, dressed in a jacket with coins adhered to its fabric.
Loring wowed visitors for hours as he talked inside the gallery and provided impassioned explanations of the works on display and his rationale for creating art that explores the shared (and often painful) history of African-Americans and Jews. He talked about works such as Just Words (one of my own personal favorites). Loring created this piece after a “five minute” welding lesson. The sculpture is an assemblage of welded metal that form letters that make up ten words such as “Jew”, “Negro”, “Hope”, and “Love”. Part of the joy of viewing Loring’s work is in discovering their many layers. As you look at the same work over time, you notice new symbols, words, and objects. This is especially true of Just Words where new words appear as you circle around the sculpture and study the many different pieces of metal that form letters in different style scripts.
The Museum buzzed as visitors shared their admiration for Loring and his artwork. Overheard again and again were comments such as “amazing”, “wow!”, “I can’t wait to attend his next open house”, and “I need to bring my husband/wife/friend/child to see this exhibit!”
Loring Cornish: In Each Other’s Shoes will be on display at the JMM through July 17, 2011. For more information or to schedule a visit, please contact the Museum at (410) 732-6400 x229 / firstname.lastname@example.org.