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.
Baltimore Lives 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.
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