Legacies: Maurice Berger and Fred Wilson

Tuesday, April 19, 6:30 – 8:00 PM EST, UMBC Fine Arts Recital Hall and streamed live via YouTube (recording below)

This event is a celebration of the life and work of Maurice Berger (1956 – 2020) upon the 20th anniversary of his curation of the exhibition Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations 1979 – 2000, and the 30th anniversary of his appointment as curator of the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The program also celebrates the 30th anniversary of Fred Wilson’s groundbreaking installation Mining the Museum with The Contemporary and the Maryland Historical Society, as well as Wilson’s sculpture Artemis/Bast, which is currently on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Curator George Ciscle will moderate an intergenerational panel with Fred Wilson, Lee Boot, Symmes Gardner, and two Baltimore-based artists who see the work of Berger and Wilson as touchstones for theirs, Ashley Minner and Christopher Kojzar.

Maurice Berger was an American cultural historian, curator, and art critic, who served as a Research Professor and Chief Curator at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Berger was recognized for his interdisciplinary scholarship on race and visual culture in the United States. He curated a number of important exhibitions examining the relationship between race and American art, including the critically acclaimed For All The World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights co-organized in 2011 by the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution and the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at UMBC, which focused on the role visual imagery played in shaping, influencing, and transforming the modern struggle for racial equality and justice in the United States.

Fred Wilson (photo by Guy Ben-Ari)

Fred Wilson is a conceptual artist whose work investigates museological, cultural, and historical issues, which are largely overlooked or neglected by museums and cultural institutions. Since his groundbreaking exhibition Mining the Museum (1992) at the Maryland Historical Society, Wilson has been the subject of more than 40 solo exhibitions around the globe, including the retrospective Objects and Installations 1979-2000, which was organized by the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His work has been exhibited extensively in museums including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Allen Memorial Museum at Oberlin College, Ohio, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Institute of Jamaica, W.I., the Museum of World Cultures, Sweden, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, the British Museum, and the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His work can be found in several public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Long Museum, Shanghai, the Tate Modern in London and National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Wilson presented his exhibition Afro Kismet at the 2017 Istanbul Biennial, Turkey, which traveled to London, New York and Los Angeles. Since 2008 Wilson has been a member of the Board of Trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He represented the U.S. at the Cairo Biennale (1992) and Venice Biennale (2003). His many accolades include the prestigious MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grant (1999); the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (2006) the Ford Foundation’s Art of Change fellowship (2018) and Brandeis University’s Creative Arts Award (2019).

George Ciscle has mounted groundbreaking exhibitions and taught courses in the fine arts and humanities for close to 50 years. He was the founder and director of the George Ciscle Gallery and The Contemporary in Baltimore, an “un-museum,” which challenged existing conventions for exhibiting art in temporary non-traditional sites. From 1997-2017 he served as Curator-in-Residence at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), consulting on the development of community-based and public programming concentrating on exploring new models for connecting art, artists, and audiences. At MICA he introduced and taught the Exhibition Development Seminar until 2008 and directed the MFA in Curatorial Practice from 2011–16.

Ashley Minner is a community-based visual artist from Baltimore, Maryland. Ashley is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She earned her MFA (’11) and MA (’07) in Community Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art and her PhD (’20) in American Studies from University of Maryland College Park. In addition to maintaining her practice as a community-based visual artist, she works as an Assistant Curator for History and Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Christopher Kojzar received his BA from George Washington University and his MFA from UMBC. He has been awarded residencies at La Napoule Art Foundation (Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France), the Creative Alliance (Baltimore, MD), the Santa Fe Art Institute (Santa Fe, NM), and volunteered at the Agency of Artists in Exile (Paris, France). His collaborative trio strikeWare has received grants from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Maryland State Arts Council, and the William G. Baker Fund. Chris was recently awarded the Andrew Harris Fellowship at University of Vermont and is currently collaborating with his mother, artist Oletha DeVane, on two public art sites in Baltimore, MD.

Lee Boot is Director of the Imaging Research Center at UMBC and is an experimental media artist working to develop new and effective ways to use digital media to spread knowledge for prosocial outcomes. As the initiator and Principal Investigator of numerous research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, he has assembled widely interdisciplinary teams from the sciences, arts and humanities to explore the potential of an artist’s perspective to address vexing social issues. Lee created the short video Mining the Museum Lobby Tape (1991) which introduced Wilson’s installation at the Maryland Historical Society.

As Director for the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at UMBC, Symmes Gardner has overseen the organization and presentation of over seventy-five exhibitions including Annet Couwenberg: Sewing Circles, Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television, Muntadas: Activating Artifacts: About Academia, Where Do We Migrate To?, and Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations, 1979 – 2000. He has supervised grants and funding support for these and other projects from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Lannan Foundation, The Peter Norton Family Foundation, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, and Trellis Fund.

This event is made possible by the collaborative efforts and funding of: The Center for Innovation, Research, and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA), the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture (CADVC), the Department of Visual Arts, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Dean of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the Maryland Center for History and Culture, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

CIRCA is committed to making its events accessible to everyone. ASL interpreters and live captioning will be provided for this event.