Originally presented at the U.S. Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Tomorrow Is Another Day from artist Mark Bradford was born out of his ongoing interest in the inherently social nature of the material world we inhabit. Bradford (American, b. 1961) recycles ordinary materials in an homage to a shared American experience, recalling memories of his mother’s hair salon or the streets of Los Angeles. In its U.S. debut, this exhibition takes on new meaning within the context of the Baltimore community and speaks to the artist’s belief in art as a platform to examine contradictory histories and effect positive change.
Tomorrow Is Another Day takes visitors through a progression of installations that incorporate themes and figures from Bradford’s personal life in addition to mythological references. Among the works from Venice are Spoiled Foot, a behemoth collage installation suspended from the ceiling that literally bears down on visitors, pushing them to the periphery of the room, and The Odyssey series, a suite of three shimmering black-purple paintings made of endpapers. These works surround Medusa, a tangled sculpture of black, bleached paper inspired by accounts of her as a beautiful and powerful woman wronged by Poseidon. A new suite of monumental abstract canvases created with commercial paper that the artist bleached, soaked, and molded by hand include the exhibition title’s namesake, Tomorrow Is Another Day. They suggest both biology and the heavens, as their circles and lines evoke cells of the body as well as planets.
The exhibition concludes with Niagara (2005), a video that takes on new meaning as the national perception of Black identity continues to evolve in relation to ongoing conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement. Viewers see Melvin, the artist’s former neighbor, walking away from the camera, just as Marilyn Monroe did in the 1953 film of the same name. Though Melvin’s ill-fitting clothing and the poor, urban neighborhood surrounding him are heightened by the objectifying angle of the camera, his energetic gait conveys the hope of walking into another tomorrow.
In conjunction with the Venice presentation, Bradford — whose exhibitions often incorporate a social engagement component — engaged in a six-year partnership with the cooperative nonprofit Rio Terà dei Pensieri to assist in the creation of reintegration opportunities for the city’s incarcerated population. In Baltimore, Mark Bradford will partner with Greenmount West Community Center (GWCC), a community art space serving families two miles south of The Baltimore Museum of Art, to help expand the Center’s offerings, including arts education.
Co-curated by BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford and BMA Senior Research & Programming Curator and Thaw Chair of Modern Art at Stony Brook University Katy Siegel.
Mark Bradford: Tomorrow Is Another Day, presented at The Baltimore Museum of Art, is made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation, Maryland State Arts Council – Department of Commerce, Nancy L. Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff, Gabriel and Deborah Brener, Katherine and Joseph Hardiman, John Meyerhoff, M.D. and Lenel Srochi-Meyerhoff, Mafia Papers Studio, and Hauser & Wirth. The project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.