What We’re Into: “Baltimore Lives”

Earlier this semester, I saw at the Ross Art Museum the exhibit “Baltimore Lives,” by photographer, Baltimore native, and Ohio Wesleyan alumni John Clark Mayden. The exhibition consists of a collection of photographs taken between 1970 and 2012 across African-American neighborhoods in Baltimore, Maryland portraying the every-day-lives of their residents in their routinely habitats. The ultimate goal is not to romanticize lives that can often be marked by harrowing difficulties, nor to demonize the nature of these difficulties–instead, the exhibit aims to capture the intersection of beauty and tragedy, the intersection where unapologetic humanity hides. While raising reflections on larger issues inherent to present-day debates around the Black Lives Matter movement, the exhibit show, with striking sensitivity, the unique lives that together make up this fight, and this history. The portraits are, fortunately, gathered in the 2019 book “Baltimore Lives: The Portraits of John Clark Mayden”–there is no going wrong with this choice.

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