Living, Working, Listening: Black Artist Research Space

Bailey and kolpeace spent a lot of time in BARS completing the work for Music That Raised Us, and the collaborative and communal nature of the residency resulted in a warmth and familiarity that translated easily into the physical space. The show felt like a homecoming. 

For Beckett, Music That Raised Us and BARS are both extensions of her curatorial practice thesis. Born in Silver Spring, Beckett grew up in Dayton, Ohio, “the land of funk music,” and she incorporates references to Dayton and to her family in the show. After earning an undergraduate degree at Fisk University in 2013, Beckett came to Baltimore to pursue an MFA in MICA’s Curatorial Practice program, graduating in 2016. Beckett is the gallery manager for C. Grimaldis Gallery and the founding director of Black Artist Research Space. 

BARS originally lived on the internet and Music That Raised IUs played out in the physical extension of her research that she started at MICA. “My curatorial practice concentrates on artists,” Beckett says. “I enjoy working with artists and finding ways to collaborate [with] creative people. Black folks.”

Bailey and kolpeace were resident artists at BARS from December to March, and part of the residency was an opportunity to engage with each other’s work and the work of their peers. The artists got to see the Globe collection at MICA, and set up sessions with Webster Phillips to look through the I. Henry Phillips photo collection. “There were opportunities for all of us to think about the exhibition collectively,” Beckett says. “With their work, they had the opportunity to think about the way they experienced the work that they were creating and ways we could activate the work differently.” 

The primary goal for the residency was for the artists to make art for other spaces in addition to putting on an exhibition at BARS. “In just thinking about opening the space, the way the show came about was just from their conversations, and they kind of jumped at the opportunity to think a little bit differently about what an exhibition could be,” Beckett says. 

According to Beckett, “Collectively the exhibition starts in a very familiar place, and then [it] thinks about how music is this archive that has uplifted a group of people, a race of people, a community, and brought people together and brought communities together. We can make it very personal, but also some of this is universal. I think music is one of those things that’s universal.”


Angelia S. Rico

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