Academy Art Museum hosting 'A Fire That No Water Could Put Out' and 'Sebastian Martorana: Public/Private'

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Academy Art Museum hosting 'A Fire That No Water Could Put Out' and 'Sebastian Martorana: Public/Private'
Sebastian Martorana (American, b. 1981), Yours, Mine, Ours, 2010. Carrara marble, steel hardware, from the exhibition Public/Private.

EASTON, MD.- The Academy Art Museum is currently conducting the winter exhibitions: A Fire That No Water Could Put Out: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement from the Collection of The High Museum and a solo exhibition by Baltimore-based artist Sebastian Martorana entitled Public/Private. An artist talk for Martorana was held on Friday, November 17.

'A Fire That No Water Could Put Out: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement from the Collection of The High Museum': Taking its title from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech before his assassination in 1968, A Fire That No Water Could Put Out: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement from the Collection of The High Museum reflects on the 55th anniversary of this tumultuous year in American history. While Dr. King’s assassination is often described as the closing bookend on the civil rights movement, activism across the intervening 55 years has proven that the movement for racial equality and justice in the United States is not a finished story.

Drawn from the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, this exhibition underscores how photography can chronicle and even shape history. Historical works of iconic moments from the movement by Gordon Parks, Danny Lyon, Doris Derby, Ernest Withers, and others are juxtaposed with contemporary photographs by Dawoud Bey, Sheila Pree Bright, Matthew Brandt, and others that speak to the past’s reverberations into the present and future. These artworks demonstrate the wide range of artistic responses to the movement, from photo-journalism to conceptualism, from tender portraits to charged landscapes.

"Many of the advancements of the civil rights movement can be credited to the arresting scenes that unflinchingly exposed the brutality of segregation and humanity of Black people. That is what this exhibition of civil rights photography celebrates, the photographers whose work didn’t just document the protests and political actions of the era but spurred social change. I’m thrilled to partner with the High Museum to bring an exhibition to the Academy that indisputably shows the capacity of art to change minds, and the world," states Director Sarah Jesse.

Sebastian Martorana: Public/Private: Sebastian Martorana (American, b. 1981) creates masterful sculptural vignettes of public and private life out of the timeless medium of marble. Carving highly realistic yet unlikely textures such as those of an old mattress, a teddy bear, or the pages of a book out of stone, Martorana comments on sociopolitical realities and the human condition in his work. The stoic, classical appearance of marble connects his subjects to a social and artistic legacy that has been more hegemonic than welcoming for millennia, and Martorana wittily questions this through his focus on intimate subjects: Kermit the Frog’s unwavering eye contact with the viewer is a playful reflection on childish attachment, while a plush sheep evokes the human need for comfort. In his contrasting works depicting objects pertaining to public life, such as marble benches that will activate the Museum’s courtyard during the exhibition, Martorana explores the power and possibilities of community.

Martorana received his BFA in illustration from Syracuse University, where he also studied sculpture, including a semester in Italy. After graduating he became a full-time apprentice in a stone shop outside Washington, D.C. He received his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Rinehart School of Sculpture. Martorana is currently an adjunct professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Martorana’s works have received numerous awards and are included in various private and public collections. His sculpture Impressions was featured in the exhibition “40 Under 40: Craft Futures,” at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The sculpture was acquired by the museum and is now part of their permanent collection.

As the premier art museum on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Academy Art Museum presents high-quality exhibitions and a full range of art classes for visitors of all ages. Past exhibitions have featured artists such as James Turrell, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Pat Steir and Richard Diebenkorn. The permanent collection focuses on works on paper by American and European artists from four centuries including recent acquisitions by Graciela Iturbide and Zanele Muholi. Arts educational programs range from life drawing lessons to digital art instruction, and include lunchtime and cocktail hour concerts, lectures and special art events, as well as a Fall Craft Show celebrating 26 years. AAM also provides arts education to school children from the region and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

Academy Art Museum
'A Fire That No Water Could Put Out: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement from the Collection of The High Museum'
November 30th, 2023 - March 10th, 2024

Sebastian Martorana: Public/Private
November 10th, 2023 - March 24th, 2024

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