On View in the Spring House

Kota Ezawa. National Anthem (still). 2019. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase with exchange funds from the Pearlstone Family Fund and partial gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, BMA 2019.161. © Kota Ezawa; Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE Gallery, New York.

In the Spring House

Kota Ezawa

National Anthem, 2018

Opening Wednesday, August 5
Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to dusk

California-based artist Kota Ezawa (b. 1969, Germany) explores and translates significant cultural events into simulations that question the authenticity of both our experiences and retold histories. National Anthem (2018) is a single-channel animated video inspired by the many football players who took a knee, sat, raised fists, or locked arms during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality against unarmed black men and social injustice. Ezawa reproduced N.F.L. pregame footage from 2016 and 2017 by manually tracing sideline images from various football games and meticulously painting each drawing with watercolors to resemble the original image. He then rendered each scene three times, creating over 200 images which he re-animated through photography. He pairs the video with a somber, acoustic rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by a cello quartet. The film culminates with cheers from fans.

About the Spring House

The Spring House was one of several buildings in which enslaved Black men, women, and children were forced to work at Oakland, a plantation within the present-day city limits of Baltimore owned by U.S. Congressman and lawyer Robert Goodloe Harper (b. 1765–d. 1825) and daughter of a Declaration of Independence signer Catharine Carroll Harper (b. 1778–d. 1861). Located a few yards from slave sleeping quarters, the Spring House was a busy two-story barn and dairy. A typical workday began before dawn with women placing milk, eggs, and produce to cool in the fresh spring that ran through the building.

The dairy was constructed around 1812. Designed by acclaimed architect Benjamin H. Latrobe, whose credits include elements of the White House and U.S. Capitol, the Spring House is noted for its Neoclassical style. By referencing a Greek temple, Latrobe associated American farming with the ideals of an ancient empire, one that also profited from a slave system.

Originally situated near present-day Spring House Lane in northern Baltimore, opposite the existing Village of Cross Keys, the building was relocated to the BMA's west lawn in 1932. Today, the BMA opens the Spring House to the public to show exhibitions and works of art from the Museum’s collection, as well as to remind visitors of its little-known place in the history of slavery in Baltimore City.

Photograph by Mitro Hood
Feedback or Problems?