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Contemporary Museum, Walters Art Museum Offer Dawoud Bey Exhibitions
Dawoud Bey with Teen Participants planning the exhibition.

BALTIMORE, MD.- Today, Dec. 13, 2008, simultaneous exhibitions at the Walters Art Museum and the Contemporary Museum will celebrate the works of renowned photographer Dawoud Bey. At the Walters, Portraits Re/Examined: A Dawoud Bey Project will feature contemporary photographs by Bey juxtaposed with historic portraits from the museum’s private collection. Dawoud Bey: Class Pictures, a companion exhibition of more than 40 of Bey’s portraits, will be on view at the Contemporary Museum. Both exhibitions run through Saturday, Feb. 16, 2009.

Portraits Re/Examined is the result of a three-week summer residency at the Walters during which Bey and a diverse group of 12 Baltimore-area public and private school students collaborated to curate the exhibition. The exhibition will explore how race, class, and identity have been addressed in portraiture throughout history. These themes became central to the teens’ experience and the project as a whole. The Walters’ collection is the basis for discussion about the role of museums in society and the relationship that contemporary art has in museums with historical collections. The exhibition will be on display in the museum’s fourth floor Centre Street Drawings Gallery.

To create Portraits Re/Examined, students worked with Bey to select historic drawings, paintings, and portrait miniatures from the Walters’ collection, positioning them alongside 10 of Bey’s similarly evocative portraits. The student-curators also will create auxiliary components for the exhibition, including a blog, Facebook page, podcast series, and cell phone audio tour.

In conjunction with Portraits Re/Examined, the Contemporary Museum will present Dawoud Bey: Class Pictures, a collection of 40 of Bey’s striking 40-by-30-inch color prints. The museum will also feature a video installation documenting the creation of the exhibition. For Class Pictures, Bey photographed public and private high school students in cities across the country, spending several weeks in each location to ingratiate himself into the school community. His subjects bridge all parts of the economic, racial, and ethnic spectrums. The resulting portraits offer viewers an insightful glimpse into the lives of their subjects and deepen appreciation for young adults facing the challenges of the 21st century.

Both exhibits will open with a public lecture by Bey and his teen protégés at the Walters on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. The artist will discuss his unique approach to portraiture and the process of creating Portraits Re/Examined. On Sunday, January 11, 2009, at 2 p.m. in the Walters’ Graham Auditorium, Bey will be in dialogue with fellow contemporary photographer Carrie Mae Weems. They will discuss both exhibitions as well as the range of Bey’s photographs from 1975 to the present.

Portraits Re/Examined: A Dawoud Bey Project is presented by the Contemporary Museum in collaboration with the Walters Art Museum. The project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by Carol and Alan Edelman, Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff, and The Paige Family Foundation.

Dawoud Bey: Class Pictures is organized by Aperture, a not-for-profit organization devoted to photography and the visual arts. Lead support for the Contemporary’s presentation of Dawoud Bey: Class Pictures is provided by Nancy and Tom O'Neil and Provident Bank.

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