Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry
Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry was a multi-venue survey of more than 10 years of work by the husband-and-wife collaborative team Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry. Organized by the Contemporary Museum and the Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) 2009/2010 Exhibition Development Seminar, Bearing Witness had a dual mission. First, curators sought to present an exhibition that connected McCallum's and Tarry’s community and advocacy-based projects with their studio and gallery-based video, painting, and installation works. The shared theoretical underpinnings and art-historical context for the works had rarely been acknowledged, and in presenting the projects together for the first time, curators revealed the layered conceptual, aesthetic, and historic thread in their practice. Second, given the powerful content of McCallum and Tarry’s work which addresses such themes as urban violence, homelessness, race relations, and representation, the exhibition sought to create meaningful connections between the art and Baltimore’s local issues, histories, and communities. In creating Bearing Witness, curators began with two tracks of research. The first took them deep into the work of McCallum and Tarry, their process, and their past 15 years of artistic production. The second took them into Baltimore’s neighborhoods and institutions in search of suitable locations for their multi-venue vision for the exhibition. They explored possible sites for Bearing Witness by becoming researchers of the city – studying maps, visiting library archives, accessing resources of the Maryland Historical Society, and attending Baltimore Heritage lectures. Curators’ research then led them onto the streets, where they explored a wide range of public and private venues, including church communities, abandoned theatres, museums, public parks, tourist sites, storefronts, and historic districts. With respect to these possibilities, they considered a variety of factors, such as location, historical connections to the artists’ work, accessibility, safety, and logistics. From this research, a diverse group of viable venues emerged. In making selections for this exhibition, curators worked closely with the artists to understand fully their practice, the original contexts of their installations, and how the projects could be translated to new venues. The resulting installations of previously site-specific works created a comprehensive look at McCallum and Tarry’s career, and generated a dialogue between previously separate projects. Bearing Witness informed and enriched the visitor’s experience and understanding of Baltimore, and initiated dialogue about issues raised by the artists’ powerful works. Organizations associated with this exhibition include: The Contemporary Museum; Carroll Museums; Maryland Art Place; Maryland Institute College of Art; The Reginald F. Lewis Museum; and The Walters Art Museum.