BALTIMORE, MD – On April 24, The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will host a conversation with the celebrated musician, activist, and filmmaker Boots Riley and acclaimed artist Mickalene Thomas moderated by BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford. The event is part of the BMA’s ongoing Necessity of Tomorrow(s) series, which bring together artists, writers, and thought-leaders to examine and discuss issues and ideas at the intersections of art, race, and social justice. For the event, Riley and Thomas will discuss how ongoing systemic injustices inspire and influence their work, as well as the broader role of the arts in spurring dialogue, understanding, and, ultimately, change. Necessity of Tomorrow(s): Boots Riley & Mickalene Thomas is free and open to the public from 6 to 10 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-seated in the BMA’s Meyerhoff Auditorium and the program will also be live-streamed in locations throughout the museum. The event includes free admission to the BMA’s Monsters & Myths exhibition and cocktail reception with live music, cash bar, and light bites.

The event is being organized in conjunction with Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s, currently on view at the BMA through May 26, 2019. Much as many contemporary artists are grappling with our current socio-political landscape, European and American artists of the 1930s and 1940s used art as means to examine and reflect on the traumas of the World Wars. Monsters & Myths provides an in depth look at how atrocities in real life bred monsters and myths in painting, sculpture, books, and film. Taken together, the exhibition and upcoming event highlight the importance of artistic practice to assessing and dealing with real life happenings.

The April 24 event will begin at 7 p.m. with a moderated discussion followed by a Q&A with the audience. The evening will then continue with a cocktail reception with drinks from Gertrude’s, light fare from Blacksauce Kitchen, and live music by Al Rogers, Jr. Participants will have opportunities before and after the program to walk through Monsters & Myths, as well as Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg / Delights of an Undirected Mind, an installation of Surrealist-inspired artworks and films by the Berlin-based Swedish artists. The BMA’s galleries will be open from 6 to 10 p.m.

Launched in 2017, the Necessity of Tomorrow(s) borrows its title from an essay by science fiction author Samuel Delany that argues for the role for creative speculation in making a more just future. The series has previously hosted talks with artists Mark Bradford and Hank Willis Thomas and author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) is generously sponsored by Suzanne F. Cohen and the Cohen Opportunity Fund.

Boots Riley appears courtesy of Evil Twin Booking Agency.

Boots Riley
Riley is an American poet, rapper, songwriter, and activist. In 2018, he made his directorial debut with Sorry to Bother You (2018). In the film, which has received critical acclaim, Riley leveraged seemingly absurd scenarios and fantastical situations to lay bare the inextricable connections between capitalism, race, and sexuality. In its conceptual approach, the film belongs to the growing genre of AfroSurrealism, which uses bizarre images, situations, and spaces to explore racial inequality and the experiences of Black people and communities.

Mickalene Thomas
Thomas, whose work spans paintings, collages, photography, video, and installations, examines concepts of power and beauty through a feminist lens. Drawing on iconography rooted in both art history and popular culture, Thomas creates new visual vocabularies that speak to the ways in which identity is constructed and perceived and provides fresh constructs through which to consider femininity. In fall 2019, Thomas will create a large-scale, site- specific installation in the BMA’s East Lobby as part of the inaugural Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission.

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