The first major retrospective of John Waters’ visual art in his hometown of Baltimore examines the artist’s influential career through more than 160 photographs, sculpture, soundworks, and video he has made since the early 1990s. These works deploy Waters’ renegade humor to reveal the ways that mass media and celebrity embody cultural attitudes, moral codes, and shared tragedy. Exhibition highlights include a photographic installation in which Waters explores the auras and absurdities of famous films and a suite of photographs and sculpture that propose humor as a way to humanize dark moments in history from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11. Waters also manipulates images of less-than sacred, low-brow cultural references—Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyles, Justin Bieber’s preening poses, his own self-portraits—and pictures of individuals brought into the limelight through his films, including his counterculture muse, Divine. Other themes explored in the exhibition include the artist’s childhood and identity, a satirical consideration of the contemporary art world, and the transgressive power of images. The exhibition concludes with a gallery of ephemera and examples of Waters’ earliest films, presented in peep-show format.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website