Exhibit explores struggles of African-Americans, Jews

Jewish Museum showcases Baltimore artist Loring Cornish

February 11, 2011|By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

A couple years ago, African-American artist Loring Cornish was focusing his creativity on works that addressed the civil rights movement. When a Jewish couple, Ellen and Paul Saval, bought some other pieces of his, Cornish went to their home to hang the art.

By the time he was finished, "something came over me," he said. "I don't what it was. But I realized then that I had to include the struggles of the Jewish people in my work about the African-American experience. I went home, flipped over the 8-by-8(-foot) pieces I was doing and created Judaic art on the back."

Several double-sided, free-standing works covered with thousands of pieces of glass are a major part of "Loring Cornish: In Each Other's Shoes" opening this weekend at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. "He really makes a statement," said curator Karen Falk. "He is saying that civil rights isn't just about one group, but really about all of us. He's very attuned to other people's pain."

Cornish, whose home and studio are located in rowhouses on Parkwood Avenue, dug into Jewish history for the project.

"I used to think 'ghetto' and 'black' were synonymous," he said. "But l realized that Jews were assigned to ghettos long before I ever came onto the scene."

In one of his works, Cornish spells out "ghetto" backward, symbolizing the way Hebrew is read. In another, he said he symbolizes souls of slaves lost during the Middle Passage and souls of Jews lost in the Holocaust.

"I hope this show brings a sense of communal warmth and healing," the artist said.

"Loring Cornish: In Each Other's Shoes" opens Sunday and runs through July 17 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St. Call 410-732-6400 or go to jewishmuseummd.org.

—Tim Smith

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