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Material Girls Exhibition Intrigues, Amazes and Inspires at Reginald F Lewis Museum
Material Girls installation. Courtesy of Reginald F. Lewis Museum

BALTIMORE, MD.- Outside the front entrance of the museum sits Vortex, a large-sized piece of art made of volcanic stone, concrete, steel and smalti glass, by artist Martha Jackson Jarvis. This amazing sculpture is representative of the three-dimensional works in the Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists exhibition at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum on view until October 16. Larger than life, eco-friendly, non-traditional and intriguing describe the works of eight women artists who shaped 38 artistic creations using a myriad of media. The artists use beads, glass, plastic combs, rubber tires, human hair, stone and more to produce innovative creations that amaze and intrigue.

Works on view range from intimate, handcrafted beadwork to oversized sculptures made of industrial materials weighing over 1,000 pounds. A new addition to the exhibition is a touch panel that allows visitors to touch and feel some of the materials used in the exhibition.

Chakaia Booker, Sonya Clark, Torkwase Dyson, Maya Freelon Asante, Maren Hassinger, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Joyce J. Scott and Renée Stout make up the impressive lineup of artists in Material Girls. Based in Baltimore, Virginia, New York and Washington D.C., these talented artists are at varying points in their careers.

“There is an incredible energy in the materials these artists use,” says exhibition curator Dr. Michelle Joan Wilkinson. “When I walk into the gallery, I am immediately transported to another place, and I lose myself in the dazzle of colors, textures, and ideas on display.”

Material Girls celebrates the traditions of skill, innovation and creativity practiced by black women, both past and present. Visitors of all ages will appreciate how artists can transform humble materials into magical sculptures. With many of the artists using recycled materials, the exhibition also reveals inventive ways to be environmentally responsible.

“The choice of material and the narrative it tells inform the emotional response to the works as much as the form and content of the work itself.” — Bret McCabe, Arts Editor, Baltimore City Paper

“Whether with a West African-style mask festooned in car parts or a roll of ribbon with layers like rings on an ancient tree, the artists have all engaged three-dimensional space with their sculptures, installations and mixed-media assemblages.” — Huffington Post

“No matter which specific issue of material or material culture this group of artists explores, this exhibit clearly communicates the necessity for contemporary black women artists to push the boundaries of expression.” — Cara Ober, Arts Editor, Urbanite Magazine

“What makes this show so strong is that the materials are almost without exception used in the service of the artists’ meaning and intent….These women work in the traditions of their craftswomen make-do ancestors, who used the unwanted and discarded bits and pieces and they use the materials to achieve levels of power that would make their ancestors proud.” —Ellyn Weiss, The Pink Line Project

“These artists amply demonstrate that while they most certainly live in the material world, they are no mere inhabitants. They are its constructors and transformers.” – Lowery Stokes Sims, Foreword to Material Girls exhibition catalogue

“I wish I could live here.” –Visitor Comment, Reginald F. Lewis Museum

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