States of Becoming

States of Becoming

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

September 5, 2023
States of Becoming
September 22–December 9, 2023
Opening: September 21, 5:30–7:30pm, panel discussion at 6pm
Curatorial roundtable: October 26, 5–6:30pm
Sarah Kanouse, My Electric Genealogy: November 10, 6–7:30pm
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
1000 Hilltop Cir
Baltimore, Maryland
United States

The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture presents States of Becoming, an exhibition curated by Fitsum Shebeshe and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), on view at the CADVC from September 22 through December 9.

States of Becoming examines the dynamic forces of relocation, resettling, and assimilation that shape the artistic practices of a group of 17 contemporary African artists who have lived and worked in the United States within the last three decades, and informs the discourse on identity construction within the African Diaspora.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Gabriel C. Amadi-EminaKearra Amaya GopeeKibrom ArayaNadia AyariVamba BilityElshafei DafallaMasimba HwatiChido JohnsonMiatta KawinziDora KingHelina MetaferiaNontsikelelo MutitiYvonne OseiKern SamuelAmare SelfuTariku Shiferaw, and Yacine Tilala Fall.

The concept for States of Becoming evolved from curator Fitsum Shebeshe’s lived experience following his 2016 move from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Baltimore, Maryland, and his subsequent firsthand knowledge of the weight of cultural assimilation. Confronted with a different society, Shebeshe encountered a wide range of existential questions that shaped his relationship to institutions and culture. Shebeshe also had the realization for the first time that he was viewed as belonging to a minority because of the color of his skin, and a newfound awareness of the profound impact Ethiopia’s traditional and conservative culture had on his personal sense of individuality.

States of Becoming is a traveling exhibition curated by Fitsum Shebeshe and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. Lead funding is provided by the Hartfield Foundation as part of an initiative to support ICI’s commitment to new curatorial voices who will shape the future of the field, and ICI’s Curatorial Intensive alumni as they move through the stages of their career. States of Becoming is made possible with the generous support of ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum. Crozier Fine Arts is the Preferred Art Logistics Partner. Exhibition graphics by Untitled Agency, Marrakech.

The exhibition is presented at CADVC with the support of the Maryland State Arts Council; the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Science; and the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, UMBC.

States of Becoming opening reception
An opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 21, from 5:30 to 7:30pm. A 6pm panel discussion will feature Chukwudumebi Gabriel Amadi-EminaElshafei Dafalla, and Helina Metaferia, moderated by Maleke Glee, director of Stable Gallery in Washington, D.C. Exhibition curator Fitsum Shebeshe will provide an introduction. Please visit here for additional information.

States of Becoming curatorial roundtable
On Thursday, October 26 at 5pm, the CADVC presents a conversation with States of Becoming curator, Fitsum Shebeshe, and Jessica Bell Brown, curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The discussion, moderated by Rhea Beckett, founding director at Black Artist Research Space, will focus on curatorial approaches to African diasporic experience and migration. Please visit here for additional information.

Sarah Kanouse: My Electric Genealogy 
Also on offer this season at CADVC will be My Electric Genealogy, written, produced and performed by Sarah Kanouse; sound design by Jacob Ross. The performance will be presented on November 10 at 6pm.

Part storytelling, part lecture, and part live documentary film, Sarah Kanouse’s solo performance My Electric Genealogy explores the shifting cultures and politics of energy in Los Angeles through the lens of her own family. For nearly forty years, her grandfather designed, planned, and supervised the spider-vein network of lines connecting the city to its distant sources of power: rivers that are now drying up and power plants that are finally coming down. This physical infrastructure subtended diffuse “infrastructures of feeling” that included assumptions of perpetual growth and closely held beliefs about nature, gender, race, and progress. The performance weaves together signal moments in the city’s history, episodes of her grandfather’s life, anxious fantasies about a climate-challenged future, and stories of resistance and reinvention in the face of extraction.

The presentation of My Electric Genealogy at CADVC is co-sponsored by the Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA) and the Dresher Center for the Humanities.

Visitor information
Admission is free. CADVC is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am–5pm.
Parking is free during evening and weekend hours, and metered parking is available other times. Please visit here for directions and parking information.

Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture (CADVC)
CADVC, founded as the UMBC Fine Arts Gallery in 1989, is a CAHSS research center that produces scholarship, publications, and experimental engagements in the fields of art, design, and visual culture. CADVC expands the mandate of the academic art gallery, aligned with the rigor and interdisciplinarity of UMBC as a research institution and Honors University. 

Independent Curators International
Independent Curators International (ICI) supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement. Curators are arts community leaders and organizers who champion artistic practice, build essential infrastructures and institutions, and generate public engagement with art. ICI’s collaborative programs connect curators across generations and across social political and cultural borders. They form an international framework for sharing knowledge and resources and for promoting cultural exchange, access to art, and public awareness of the curator’s role.

Media contact
Tom Moore, tmoore [​at​]

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Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
September 5, 2023

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