Past Exhibitions

The Big Hope Show

October 3, 2015 – September 4, 2016

Selected images from The Big Hope Show:


The Big Hope Show opens on the eve of the American Visionary Art Museum's 20th anniversary celebration and is an original and unabashedly idealistic, art exhibition that champions the radiant and transformative power of hope. Over twenty-five visionary artists, among them many "super survivors" of enormous personal traumas, exhibit soulful creations reflecting their personal transcendence, and often, a heightened or newfound creativity and sense of humor.

In playful tribute to this national museum's much-in-need-of-hope, beloved hometown of Baltimore City, Maryland, Bobby Adams—an exuberant outsider artist, dog lover and Christmas addict—will share never-before-seen photos, scrapbooks and assemblages as he documented his mid-century Baltimore upbringing and multi-decade immersion in filmmaker John Waters' band of inclusive renegades, the "Dreamlanders."

A hopeful look as to what constitutes community policing at its best is spotlighted in a video tribute to Kevin Briggs, the California trooper who so caringly connected with would-be suicide jumpers on the Golden Gate Bridge, and successfully helped save upwards of 200 lives. The Big Hope Show also addresses justice at its worse, with a visceral depiction of the life and artistry of the late Herman Wallace, an innocent Louisiana man who spent more than four decades in a solitary confinement cell measuring just 6' x 9'. Jackie Sumell powerfully conveys Wallace's experience with the remarkably humane and hopeful installation of Herman's House.

In another public first, The Big Hope Show unveils the fiercely blissful art of psychedelic rock pioneer and Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, who survived a harrowing robbery attempt while working as a fry cook at a Long John Silvers restaurant. Coyne's near-death trauma somehow catapulted him to explode with new talents and wildly unbridled creative endeavors. At AVAM, Coyne will provide visitors a peek into what really fuels his hope and happiness with a feel-good, visitor immersive, art installation titled, King's Mouth, and more.

Also in this exhibition: colored pencil master, Margaret Munz-Losch displays her life-sized, mind-boggling, intricate work Early Bird, cancer survivor, artist and performer Chris Roberts-Antieau shares her most elaborately embroidered fabric story pieces to date, and Nancy Josephson takes center stage with her 10-ft tall, beaded Bird Goddess sculpture. Film-documentarian Lisa Revson artfully observes the "why" behind a strangely hopeful societal phenomena in her installation, The Lost Earring Project: A Ritual of Hope, that asks: "why do so many of us keep holding onto the single mates to long lost earrings?"

Curated by museum founder and director Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, The Big Hope Show aims to inspire a clearer, more hopeful, communal roadmap forward by shining a big exhibition spotlight on just what ignites and sustains human hope, while, at the same time, artfully identifying and combating those ancient forces hell-bent on hope's destruction: cynicism, fear and despair. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed, "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." This timely exhibition serves up a tasty buffet of examples for positive change, fueled by that ultimate superfood—hope.

Exhibition Artists:

Anonymous Artists • Bobby Adams • William Allen • Sermet Aslan • Philip Carey • Wayne Coyne • Candy Cummings • Deepak Chowdhury • Arthur Hammer • John Root Hopkins • Nancy Josephson • Laurie Lipton • Margaret Munz-Losch • Craig Norton • Dan Patrell • Yanni Posnakoff • Lisa Revson • Chris Roberts-Antieau • Romaine Samworth • Noah Scialom • Isadore H. Shore • Raekan Smyth • Jackie Sumell • Nada Stone • Frank Warren, Postsecret • George Williams

Exhibition Sponsors:

  • PLATINUM: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
  • GOLD: Jane W. Daniels, Dr. & Mrs. Lawrence Pakula
  • SILVER: Marc & Leonor Blum, Brenda Brown Lipitz-Rever Foundation, Todd Wilson & Ted Delaplaine, Philip & Harriet Klein Foundation, Maryellyn Lynott, Thomas & Linda McCabe, Arnold & Alison Richman, Jim & Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation, Sylvan/Laureate Foundation.
  • BRONZE: Rheda Becker & Robert Meyerhoff, Emile Bendit, Mary Catherine Bunting, Suzanne Cohen, Joan Develin Coley & Lee Rice, Richard & Rosalee Davison, Barbara & Louis Denrich, JoAnn & Jack Fruchtman, Betsy & George Hess, Zanvyl & Isabella Krieger Fund, John Sondheim & Emily Greenberg, Lois & Philip Macht Family Philanthropic Fund, Ben & Esther Rosenbloom Foundation, Jan Weinberg
  • Exhibition Supporters: John & Berthe Ford
  • 20th Anniversary Sponsor: Just Folk
  • Special Thanks: UMBC, An Honors University in Maryland, commonvision - UMBC's Student Design and Animation Center, Dwayne Butcher and Laura Schraven.

Exhibition Quotes (PDF)


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