"Bearing is a series of printed silk scrims with photographic portraits of black teenage mothers. Some pregnant, some with their children, these young women share their stories through both proud stances and determined, yet vulnerable, voices as they share visual and verbal testimony about their pregnancies and lives following the birth of their children. Formally, these portraits echo traditional icons of the Madonna and Child in two ways: their glittering, gold backgrounds and their tender portrayal of mothers with children. The audio component of Bearing provides an opportunity for these young women to express intimate reflections on their experiences. These testimonies and images confront the challenges of peer pressure, sex, pregnancy and the transition to adulthood. In referencing portraits and icons of the Madonna and Child, Bearing stages a powerful dialogue with the permanent collection on display in the Byzantine, Russian and Ethiopian Galleries at The Walters. As suggested by the many different meanings of the series’ title—carrying a child, enduring challenges and more—Bearing resonates both conceptually and visually. Inspired by altarpieces housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bearing was originally conceived as a public intervention with the assistance of the Department of Human Services. One particular portrait, Tymia, startles the viewer by revealing her abdominal stretch marks as she stands with her hands firmly placed on her hips in a gesture of defiance. In both image and word, this series serves as a reminder that these young women, and indeed all mothers, regardless of their race, age, social background or marital status, share a common life experience."
"Bearing." In Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry, edited by Jennie Hirsh, 40-41. Baltimore, MD: Maryland Institute College of Art, 2010.
To view or download the entire exhibition catalogue from Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry with descriptions of each work as well as a critical essay, please visit the Featured page.