Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab

Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab

Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

Tahir Hemphill. Courtesy of Creative Time. Photo: Ray Llanos/Cristos Katsiaouni.

February 3, 2023
Tahir Hemphill
Rap Research Lab
January 30–March 18, 2023
Tomashi Jackson talk: February 9, 6pm
Tahir Hemphill demo: February 23, 2pm
On Instituions (Dub Remix): March 16, 6pm
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
Baltimore, Maryland
United States

UMBC’s Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC) presents Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab. The exhibition, which fosters experimentation and learning through visual and material explorations of geographies of hip hop, showcases an artist who occupies a hybrid space that intersects art, technology, social engagement, and interdisciplinary research.

Rap Research Lab will feature Tahir Hemphill’s evolving body of multimedia artwork, including a presentation of his growing series titled Maximum Distance, Minimum Displacement, and new interactive works and works-in-progress on view for the first time. Among the new works is Visualisation of Authority, a kinetic sculpture illustrating the evolving data of library holdings that were the subject of Hemphill’s research as the 2018 Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education at the Library of Congress.

An active research laboratory and classroom
Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab is more than an exhibition: it will transform the CADVC into an active research laboratory and studio focused on data visualizations of rap culture and history. The CADVC will also operate as a forum for learning through Mapper’s Delight, a middle-school curriculum designed by Hemphill in collaboration with Verizon Innovative Learning. 

Rap Research Lab will also operate as the classroom for Hemphill’s teaching. His spring 2023 course, IRC Fellows Topics in Art and Technology, invites an interdisciplinary group of students to work on translating ideas into new visual and material form through creative technologies. The course is offered in collaboration with UMBC’s Imaging Research Center. Hemphill and his collaborators will mine the Rap Almanac, a vast dataset of rap lyrics that Hemphill has assembled from various archives over the course of many years, to produce new artworks, experiments, and visualizations. The presentation at the CADVC will grow and change as new work is produced.

About Tahir Hemphill
Tahir Hemphill joined UMBC’s department of visual arts in 2021 as a Postdoctoral Fellow for Faculty Diversity. He arrived at UMBC with broad experience in higher education, commercial design, and the non-profit sector. After earning a BA in Spanish language from Morehouse College, a strategic planning certificate from Miami Ad School, and a MS in communications design from the Pratt Institute, he went on to receive a Creative Research Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University and a Hiphop Archive Fellowship at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

He has served as the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, and as Behavioral Science Resident at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center.

In the commercial sector, artist residencies at Spotify and Autodesk Pier 9 have recognized his creative work. He has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund.

Ongoing events
A number of “pop up” events will occur in connection with Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab. These will be posted on the artist’s website

February 9, 6pm: Tomashi Jackson, CADVC exploratory artist in residence, in conversation with CADVC Director Rebecca Uchill. February 23, 2pm: “Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement”; Dr. Foad Hamidi and Tahir Hemphill will demo robot arm choreography. Reservations required, UMBC ITE Building. Information will be provided to registered participants upon sign up (see here for details). March 16, 6pm: “On Instituions (Dub Remix)” closing discussion and open gallery accompanied by “Dubwise” DJ mix.

Support for Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab has been provided by PNC Bank, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Baltimore County Commission on the Arts and Sciences, and the Dean’s Office of UMBC’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Visitor information
The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture is located in UMBC’s Fine Arts Building, and is open free of charge, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 5pm. UMBC is located at 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, and is just off I-95 about 15 minutes south of the Inner Harbor area.

Media contact
Tom Moore, tmoore [​at​] umbc.edu.

RSVP for Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
February 3, 2023

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Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) will be in touch.


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