BMA Announces Nekisha Durrett and Jackie Milad Selected for Site-Responsive Commissions in Dialogue with Fred Wilson’s Artemis/Bast Sculpture

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced Nekisha Durrett and Jackie Milad were selected to create new works in dialogue with Fred Wilson’s Artemis/Bast (1992). These two artists responded with compelling proposals that engage with the provocation: “What images and thoughts emerge when myths and histories collide?” This initiative provides an opportunity for the artists to explore critical questions integral to their own practices, while also examining the complex and unresolved legacies in Wilson’s art, which has at key moments intersected with Baltimore’s cultural history. The new installations by Durrett and Milad will be presented in an exhibition with Wilson’s work in the John Waters Rotunda and two adjacent galleries from April 26, 2023, through March 17, 2024.

Nekisha Durrett is a Washington, DC-based mixed-media artist whose work leverages unexpected materials to make visible the historical connections and connotations that places and materials embody, but are often overlooked. Whether reimagining pre-colonial landscapes, bygone Black communities, or family lore, Durrett’s expansive, research-driven practice creates contemplative spaces and opportunities for viewers to consider what is revealed or concealed when information is filtered across time. Jackie Milad is a Baltimore City-based artist whose mixed-media abstract paintings and collages address the layers, history, and complexities surrounding multi-ethnic identity. She creates a unique world of her own by blending what appears to be disparate imagery and language from her Egyptian-Honduran immigrant upbringing. Milad’s art tells the story of her individual decisions, inspirations, and personal history, as well as the power of cultural heritage and shifting historical narratives.

Fred Wilson is a conceptual artist whose work investigates museological, cultural, and historical issues that are largely overlooked or neglected by museums and cultural institutions. His Mining the Museum exhibition—organized by The Contemporary through the pathbreaking work of George Ciscle and Lisa Corrin—took place at the Maryland Historical Society in 1992. This project lay groundwork for decades of innovative, investigative, and community-centered curatorial practice that have followed in Baltimore and beyond. Ciscle’s collaborative approach modeled an ethos of care and truth-seeking that invited a new, more inclusive direction for the museum field. Nearly a decade later, Wilson’s retrospective Objects and Installations 1979–2000 was organized by the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The BMA has one work by Wilson in its collection, an untitled sculpture that was conceived as part of the same 1992 installation as Artemis/Bast and acquired the same year.

The Artemis/Bast commissions and open call process were designed to engage and support emerging and mid-career artists, and to explore the unresolved legacies of Wilson’s sculpture in the context of the museum. After shaping the project provocation with Fred Wilson, and open call structure with consulting adviser George Ciscle, the BMA announced the open call for artists based in Maryland and its contiguous states at the end of May and received 104 responses to the request for qualifications in late June. BMA staff narrowed the selection to six finalists who were invited to submit a detailed proposal. The final decision was made by a panel of four independent jurors with extensive curatorial experience—Angela N. Carroll, Teri Henderson, Ashley Minner, and Ginevra Shay—with consulting advisor George Ciscle, Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) Curator-in-Residence Emeritus.

The commission and exhibition are organized by Cecilia Wichmann, BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, and Dave Eassa, BMA Director of Public Engagement.

More information: https://artbma.org

Nekisha Durrett photo by Sonnie B. Mason. Jackie Milad photo by Grace Roselli for Pandora’s BoxX Project.

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