Meeting Loring Cornish

A blog post by Summer Intern Ryan Motevalli-Oliner.

I met Loring Cornish one week before I started my internship at the JMM.  As a resident of Randallstown, MD I had the opportunity to come and tour the exhibits on my own time before the internship started. It just so happened that Loring was at the museum that very day. When I entered his exhibition Loring was giving a tour to a couple. I continued through the exhibit on my own eavesdropping when I could. Loring and the couple left leaving me all alone in the exhibit. Shortly thereafter Loring came rushing back in to point out a specific piece in the exhibit, Just Words. He talked about the piece with such excitement; like how a child might explain an achievement they are proud of. Loring walked me through the piece pointing out the many words that made up the piece. He opened my eyes to a piece that from a far just looked like pieces of metal welded together. His excitement sparked an excitement in me to look deeper into his work. That was my first interaction with Loring Cornish; I never told him my name.

Loring came and talked about this sculpture, entitled Just Words, with me during our first encounter. If you look closely you can see the words “Jew” (on the left) and “Holocaust” (on the left). These are two of the many words Loring built into this sculpture.

I told Loring my name for the first time at Commodore Rogers Elementary & Middle School when he came in to work with the students who were making their own mosaics. Loring walked in to excited “hellos” from the students. He said hello to Elena Rosemond-Hoerr and then me. To my astonishment he remembered my face and where he saw it before. I introduced myself and we talked for a few minutes before he dived into working with the students. He went from student to student talking to them about their work. If he saw a name he addressed the student by it, even if he pronounced the name wrong. To an outside observer it seemed like he had known these students for months. The excitement he showed for the students’ mosaics was the same excitement he showed for his own work. Again, Loring sparked excitement within me. His interaction with the students made me want to stop acting like an intern and act more like a teacher and to interact with the students.  I tried this new approach the following week. I got to know a student, Ty-Shawn. We talked about many things including my strange resemblance to Adam Sandler and his belief that I was 45 years old. Loring came back this week and amazed me again as he sat down to try and make his own mosaic with the same crafts the students were using. Honestly I do not think his turned out as great as some of the students, and I am sure he is fine with that.

Loring with students from Commodore Rogers Elementary & Middle School at the JMM.

My most recent interaction with Loring was at the JMM’s first Thursday event, Brews and Schmooze. The event entitled “Piecing a Path: A Night with Loring Cornish,” was designed with Loring in mind. Guests were given the opportunity to collage candle holders and socialize with others over falafel. The guests had the chance go on a guided tour of Loring’s exhibit with the artist himself. Loring gave two tours, and his enthusiasm during the second, smaller tour was at the same level if not higher than the first, larger tour. Loring’s enthusiasm, for his work, was felt by all who listened to him tell the story of each piece. Guests commented on how energetic and full of spirit Loring was and their envy that he was able to do something he loved to do. Loring’s love of his work and the impact he made on his audience inspired me once again. His passion that he transferred to his audience cannot be explained. He is an amazing man that contributes to society through his love of art making, something I hope to do as a teacher.

Loring and Me at Brews and Schmooze, the JMM first Thursday event.

Meeting Loring and getting to see him interact with people has inspired me. He is an optimistic man with a smile always on his face. I am sad his exhibit is leaving the JMM (the last day is July 17) and my interactions with Loring will decrease, but I am extremely lucky to have met an artist with such excitement for the world. If you have not seen Loring’s exhibit “In Each Other’s Shoes” I strongly encourage you to stop by the JMM before July 17th and if you cannot make it, see the exhibit when it goes to the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis in September. Even without meeting Loring Cornish, I can guarantee that by taking the time to really look at Loring’s work, you too will be inspired.

This mosaic, Jilted 6,877,208, is Loring’s remembrance of the Holocaust and its victims. This is my favorite piece in the exhibit because not only do I appreciate Loring’s use of 6,877,208 as the number for the Jews who perished during the Holocaust but also I saw it as a symbol of Jewish prisoners and their identification numbers.


Exhibits Interns jewish museum of maryland

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