Note: AVAM is opening a new exhibit and this one is now closed. Look for my post on the new show Tuesday Oct. 7.
You gotta go to the American Visionary Art Museum with an open mind and a sense of humor. Exhibits here have a tendency to inspire, provoke thought — and to startle and amuse.
This is not art the way you’ll find it at the usual art museum or gallery.
This is outsider art and this year’s exhibition at the Baltimore institution, “Human Soul and Machine: The Coming Singularity” brings together works made with toothpicks, yarn, aluminum fire and spare piano parts.
The exhibit takes a look at the impact of technology on human lives, from little things like personal computers and the internet to corporate technology to the science of war.
One of the stars of the show, in my view, is Temple Grandin. “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow” is an author and professor who used her empathy for cows to create a Hug Box. Although it comforted the animals, she found it comforted her as an autistic person, too. Her drawings illustrate some of her work with animals.
“The questions are big,” Rebecca Hoffberger said at the press preview. Hoffberger is the curator of this exhibit, as well as AVAM’s founder and director.
And some of the art is big, too. It fills rooms and reaches to the ceiling. The art is thought provoking (and fun) with robots, Star Trek figures, a bench made out of laptop lids, and sculptures made of pencils and lightbulb parts.
There are rooms filled with this stuff — I walked through with a smile on my face, except when I must have looked completely baffled. It’s colorful, somber, exhilarating.
As with any AVAM exhibit, I wouldn’t miss it. The exhibit is open until August 31, 2014.
When you stop by — and you know you want to — make sure you take a look at the sidewalk on the Key Highway side of the building. Local artists have turned it into a history lesson about Baltimore.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman