Baltimore native John Clark Mayden's photographs are distinctive to
the city and specific to black life there, lingering on the front
stoops and in the postage-stamp backyards of Charm City row houses.
But these pictures are far from nostalgic. Informed by the
photographer's deep commitment to both social justice and
storytelling, they strip Baltimore of pretense and illusion and show
the city's veins.
gathers 101 of Mayden's best photographs in print for the first time.
Taken between 1970 and 2012, these photos illuminate the experiences
of life throughout the predominantly African American city, capturing
the relaxed intimacy of community, family, and the comfort of home in
contrast to the harsh sting of social injustice, poverty, and crime.
In Mayden's work, we meet people who are not expecting us. We bear
witness to their lives—their emotions, gestures, and faces that
often reveal more than they conceal. But regardless of the camera's
presence, people go on waiting for the bus, catching a breeze on
their front steps, slogging through the snow to work and school, and,
every so often, returning the photographer's gaze with a sly grin, a
backward glance, a curious frown.
Including a brief
biography of John Clark Mayden written by his sister, Ruth W. Mayden,
and an essay by art historian Michael Harris on how Mayden's work
fits into larger trends of black photography, Baltimore Lives
is a stunning visual history of the spatial and human elements that
together make Baltimore's inner city.