Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum

Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum

Kim R. McCormick
Mar 29, 2012

As the fickle spring weather turned rainy this weekend, I headed indoors for my first visit to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood. From its one-of-a-kind exterior to its equally unique exhibits, this museum is bursting with creativity and inspiration.

The AVAM is dedicated to showcasing art created by self-taught artists "usually with no formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself."

Items currently on display include everything from a giant ball of bras to polystyrene cup "paper" cuts (Image 4) to an enormous pink tulle poodle. The skillfully made, lighthearted interactive Cabaret Mechanical Theatre is also a lot of fun.

Of the current "All Things Round" exhibit, the highlight is Scott Weaver's "Rolling Through the Bay," an interactive 100,000 toothpick sculpture and ode to San Francisco (see it in action below).

All in all, during our visit, my sister-in-law and I were having as much fun as the kids milling around nearby. At the same time, many of the pieces are very moving, in part because many of the artists have met serious personal setbacks, including issues related to disability, addiction, and mental illness. I'm still thinking about the work of a particular anonymous artist, who created a calendar linking the days of his or her sobriety using a plank of wood, nails, and some unruly wire. Also fascinating are the works by Judith Scott, born deaf and mute and with Down syndrome, who chose small, personally significant objects and buried them under layers of found textiles and fibers.

(Images: 1. Kim Rinehimer 2. The Tinkering Studio 3. AVAM 4. Jill Fannon via Baltimore City Paper)

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