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Work Samples

JHU Medical Demolition #1 (2020)

2020, abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, modern ruin
In early 2019, I was granted access to a demolition site on the Johns Hopkins medical campus. I was given a hardhat, neon vest, and protective glasses to wear while I photographed the floor-by-floor removal of a disused hospital building from the early twentieth century. It was like witnessing a surgical amputation of part of the built environment. From this first-hand look at a building’s methodical erasure, I got a glimpse into the intentional destruction of part of the city. The building is now completely gone; a square cavity in the ground is all that remains.

City House Charles, Baltimore #2

architecture, built environment, cityscpe, construction site, photomontage, urban landscape
This is the second in a series of digital photomontages depicting the current City House Charles construction project at the corner of Charles and East Eager Streets in Baltimore.

0ne Nassau, Boston (2003)

architecture, built environment, cityscpe, construction site, photomontage, urban landscape
This photomontage from early in my career depicts a construction site in downtown Boston.

Allston Village, Boston #1

architecture, built environment, cityscpe, construction site, photomontage, urban landscape
This 3 x 3 "square-set" represents the Allston Village neighborhood of Boston, MA.

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About Dereck

Baltimore City

Dereck Mangus's picture
Dereck Stafford Mangus is a visual artist and writer based in Baltimore. His artwork has been exhibited in select galleries throughout Charm City, including Atlas Fine Arts, InSquare Art, Maryland Art Place, the Peale Center for Baltimore History & Architecture, and elsewhere. His visual work was most recently featured in the intimate group exhibition Constructed at Full Circle Gallery. Over the past few years, recognition for his written compositions has included an Honorable... more

Published Essays and Reviews

Despite the challenges of the past year, I was fortunate enough to get a lot of work done. Early in 2020, an essay of mine received Honorable Mention in the annual Art Writing challenge hosted by Artblog, an independent online arts journal based in Philadelphia. Artblog then invited me to become a contributing writer, focusing on the architecture and built environment of Baltimore, and several of my pieces were published on their site over the course of the year. More recently, I became a member of Atlantika, an international collective of artists, curators, and writers, who published several of my essays on their site as well. 

Over the past few years, recognition for my writing has included selection for publication in Full Bleed, the annual journal of art and design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2018, I won the prestigious Frieze Writer’s Prize for my review of a major exhibition celebrating Black artist Jack Whitten at The Baltimore Museum of Art. They too asked me to become a contributing writer. My inaugural review for frieze, “Artist Pat Steir Is Still Challenging the Postwar American Canon,” appeared online in January 2020, and in their March print edition.

2020: A Year in Review

Several of my art projects directly relate to the previous year. Over the course of 2020, I created illustrations and photomontages to accompany essays responding to the coronavirus; submitted work to competitions, such as the Penn Institute for Urban Research “Cities and Contagion” photo contest (for which my image Bus Ride was a finalist); and lastly, inspired by the painting genre, I photographed a still life composed of traditional and contemporary objects in the closing hours of 2020. Vitruvian Man during Coronavirus, Square Signs #1, and Still Life were all recently selected by the Hamilton Arts Collective to be included in their virtual exhibition, Bearing Witness – the artists’ tenacious view, which will be on view from February 15–April 15, 2021.

  • The Mindful Home (2020)

    2020, Artblog, architecture, anatomy, body, brain, buildings, coronavirus, digital illustration, dwelling
    I designed this digital illustration to accompany my essay, “On Dwelling: Anatomy and Architecture during Coronavirus,” which was published by Artblog, an independent online arts journal based in Philadelphia, in April 2020, and more recently by Atlantika, an international collective of artists, curators, and writers.
  • Vitruvian Man during Coronavirus (2020)

    2020, Artblog, architecture, anatomy, body, buildings, coronavirus, digital illustration, Leonardo, dwelling, Vitruvian Man
    I designed this digital illustration to accompany my essay, “On Dwelling: Anatomy and Architecture during Coronavirus,” which was published by Artblog, an independent online arts journal based in Philadelphia, in April 2020, and later by Atlantika, an international collective of artists, curators, and writers.
  • Home Is Where the Heart Is (2020)

    2020, Artblog, architecture, anatomy, body, buildings, coronavirus, heart, home, digital illustration, dwelling
    I designed this digital illustration to accompany my essay, “On Dwelling: Anatomy and Architecture during Coronavirus,” which was published by Artblog, an independent online arts journal based in Philadelphia, in April 2020, and later by Atlantika, an international collective of artists, curators, and writers.
  • Exterior Shot: A Moment's Pleasure (2020)

    2020, Artblog, architecture, BLM, digital photography, the Baltimore Museum of Art, “Mickalene Thomas, A Moment’s Pleasure”
    I took this digital photograph to accompany my essay, “At Home at the Baltimore Museum of Art: ‘Mickalene Thomas: A Moment’s Pleasure,’” which was published by Artblog, an independent online arts journal based in Philadelphia, in September 2020.
  • Bus Ride (2020)

    2020, bus ride, digital photography, Penn Institute for Urban Research, “Cities and Contagion” photo contest
    I submitted this digital diptych to the Penn Institute for Urban Research “Cities and Contagion” photo contest, and it was selected as a finalist.
  • Shuttered Stores (2020)

    2020, shuttered stores, digital photography, hope, love, BLM, Penn Institute for Urban Research, “Cities and Contagion” photo contest
    I submitted this composite image of six digital photographs to the Penn Institute for Urban Research “Cities and Contagion” photo contest. It depicts shuttered stores around Baltimore, painted over with signs of hope.
  • Square Signs #1

    2020, square signs, digital photography, coronavirus, Penn Institute for Urban Research, “Cities and Contagion” photo contest, Hamilton Arts Collective, “Bearing Witness”
    I submitted this composite image of four digital photographs to the Penn Institute for Urban Research “Cities and Contagion” photo contest. Though it was not chosen as a winner or finalist for the contest, “Square Signs #1” was selected by the Hamilton Arts Collective to be included in their virtual exhibition “Bearing Witness – the artists’ tenacious view,” which will be on view from February 15–April 15, 2021.
  • Square Signs #2 (2020)

    2020, square signs, BLM, coronavirus, digital photography
    I recently made this composite image of four square signs I found around my neighborhood. It’s a companion piece to “Square Signs #1.”
  • Street Finds (2020)

    2020, street finds, digital photography, coronavirus, masks, rubber glove, Penn Institute for Urban Research, “Cities and Contagion” photo contest
    I submitted this composite image of four digital photographs to the Penn Institute for Urban Research 2020 “Cities and Contagion” photo contest.
  • Still Life (2020)

    2020, still life, digital photography, coronavirus, painting genre, pandemic, Hamilton Arts Collective, “Bearing Witness”
    I shot “Still Life” with my digital SLR in the closing hours of 2020. It was inspired by the painting genre, and composed of a mixture of traditional and contemporary objects. “Still Life” was recently selected by the Hamilton Arts Collective to be included in their virtual exhibition “Bearing Witness – the artists’ tenacious view,” which will be on view from February 15–April 15, 2021.

Political Art: 2004–2020

In 2020, I launched the Bounty Label Project. By tweaking the Bounty-brand paper towel logo to say “Donny” and by updating the tagline (from the iconic jingle) to read “The Guilty Stripper Picker Upper,” I made a pun about President Donald Trump who was impeached earlier in the year and was previously involved in a sex scandal with the adult film actress and stripper Stormy Daniels. President Trump also flippantly tossed paper towel rolls into a crowd after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

The Heinz Label Project, a similar “culture jamming” campaign, was completed during the 2004 Presidential Election, drew attention to the issue of money in mainstream politics. By highlighting the connection between Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and his wife Teresa Heinz’ ketchup fortune, this tongue-in-cheek guerrilla art project playfully reminded the public of the massive fortunes necessary for mainstream political campaigns.

  • Bounty Label Project #1 (2020)

    2020, Bounty, culture jamming, Donny, Trump, labels, political art
    I designed this label based on the original Bounty-brand paper towel logo, mass-produced it, and then distributed them amongst my politically like-minded friends to place over the actual logo in stores.
  • Bounty Label Project #2 (2020)

    2020, Bounty, culture jamming, Donny, Trump, labels, political art
    I created this animated gif to illustrate how to place one of my “culture jamming” labels over the real Bounty logo in a store. (Click on it to view the animation.)
  • Bounty Label Project #3 (2020)

    2020, Bounty, culture jamming, Trump, paper towels, political art
    This photograph serves as documentation of “Donny” labels on various-sized Bounty paper towel rolls.
  • Bounty Label Project Poster (2020)

    2020, Bounty, culture jamming, Donny, Trump, labels, political art
    I designed this poster to illustrate how to place one of my “culture jamming” labels over the real Bounty logo in mini marts and grocery stores.
  • Heinz Label Project #1 (2004)

    2004, Heinz, culture jamming, Kerry, labels, political art
    I designed this label based on the original Heinz-brand ketchup logo, mass-produced it, and then distributed them amongst my politically like-minded friends to place over the actual logo in stores.
  • Heinz Label Project #2, (2004)

    2004, Heinz, culture jamming, Kerry, labels, political art
    I created this animated gif to illustrate how to place one of my “culture jamming” labels over the real Heinz logo in a store. (Click on it to view the animation.)
  • Heinz Label Project Poster (2004)

    2004, culture jamming, Heinz, Kerry, labels, political art
    I designed this poster to illustrate how to place one my political art labels over the real Heinz logo in restaurants and stores. Years after the 2004 Presidential Election, I was amused to find them still on bottles of ketchup at certain bars in Boston.
  • Heinz Label Project #3 (2004)

    2004, culture jamming, Heinz, Kerry, labels, political art
    I designed this label based on the original Heinz-brand ketchup ingredients sticker found on the back of the 36-oz “EZ-Squeeze” bottle to illustrate the outcome of the 2000 presidential election results.
  • Heinz Label Project #4 (2004)

    2004, culture jamming, Heinz, Kerry, labels, political art
    I took this photo in an airport restaurant in Minneapolis, en route to Anchorage, in order to document my "culture jamming" political art project.

Constructions of Baltimore

I am deeply inspired by the built environment in which I live and work. Constructions, an ongoing series of photomontages, illustrates this well. For this project, I locate buildings under construction and take multiple shots across their façades, revisiting a site several times over the course of its development. I later re-construct the multiple shots (and shoots) in PhotoShop to create a larger composite image. Several examples from this series were featured in the group exhibition, Constructed, at Full Circle Gallery in early 2020. Others appeared alongside my essays “Legoland Brutalism and the Building Blocks of Urban Development” and “Charm City Double Feature: A Tale of Two Historic Theaters,” which were published by Artblog in April and November 2020.

Ruins of Baltimore: Part One

Over the past few years, I began making photomontages of buildings in ruin, examples of which can be found throughout Baltimore. This project is an extension of my Constructions series, but focuses on the deterioration of buildings rather than their creation. In 2019, I was granted access to a demolition site on the Johns Hopkins medical campus to document its methodical process; the building is now completely gone. I also began exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of Baltimore, taking photos of the many abandoned buildings there. Several examples from this series were featured in the group exhibition, Constructed, at Full Circle Gallery in early 2020.

Ruins of Baltimore: Part Two

Since moving to Baltimore five years ago, I began exploring the working class neighborhoods of East Baltimore, and photographing the many vacant buildings found there. While all cities have a certain level of crumbling infrastructure, Baltimore has more than usual. I find a strange sort of beauty in these dilapidated edifices. They present a window unto the past while provoking visions of an as yet unknown future. Who used to live here? Where have they gone? Further still, what will fill these spaces down the line? Will urban redevelopment forever erase these structures? Will they live on only through photographic documentation? 

  • Johnston Square Ruin #1 (2015–2020)

     abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage and mixed-media assemblage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #2 (2019)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #3 (2019)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #4 (2019)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #5 (2019)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #6 (2019)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #7 (2019)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, interior, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting the interior of a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #8 (2020)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Johnston Square Ruin #9 (2020)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.
  • Oliver Ruin #1 (2020)

    abandoned building, architecture, Baltimore, built environment, digital photomontage, Johnston Square, modern ruin
    This is a digital photomontage depicting a modern ruin I found while exploring the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore.

The Square Project: Part One

The Square Project began in 2001, a few months before 9/11, during a transatlantic postal art exchange between Jenni and me while she was studying design in London and I was in a photography course at UMass Boston. I was trying to figure out what I should shoot for a final project around the time we began playing around with – for whatever reason ­– the multiple meanings of the word square in our mailings, combining both its formal properties as a design element with its slang use as a hipper-than-thou affront: “You are so square!”

The Square Project: Part Two

The Square Project documents various square forms I find on my many explorations of the city. The urban landscape is full of squares: buttons, hatches, logos, signs, and windows, to name but a few. There is also the market or public square, where commercial and social activity is concentrated, such as with Harvard Square, Times Square, and Trafalgar Square. I photograph squares wherever I go, in whatever city I visit, and organize them in a grid format, recalling the urban layouts from which they were found. Squares are my markers, the coordinates of my wanderings.

  • London (2007)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring London, UK.
  • New York City (2007–2017)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring New York, NY.
  • Boston (2008–2014)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring Boston, MA.
  • Cambridge (2008–2012)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring Cambridge, MA.
  • Washington, DC (2008–2017)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring Washington, DC.
  • Providence (2009–2010)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring Providence, RI.
  • Chicago (2009)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring Chicago, IL.
  • Austin (2009)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring Austin, TX.
  • San Francisco (2009)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring San Francisco, CA.
  • Baltimore (2011–2016)

    built environment, cityscape, exploration, grid, square, quadrilateral, urban landscape
    This is a 3 x 3 grid depicting nine square items I found while exploring Baltimore City, MD.

Square Calendar #2 (2020)

The square also represents time, with its four equal sides suggesting the four seasons, and in the form of the calendar demarcating the days of the week in a grid of squares. In 2016, I made calendars based on my square series and mailed them out as holiday gifts to colleagues, family members, and friends. Included in the square mailers were 16 square photographs representing the 12 months and 4 seasons, plus the necessary hardware for assembling a wall hanging. Four years later, I made Square Calendar #2.

Square Calendar #2 (2020) + Square Calendar #1 (2016)

Squares are ubiquitous in the built environment. Examples are all around us. In fact, the screen you’re looking at right now is composed of tiny square units called pixels, from “pic-el” or “picture element.” Earlier this year, a controversial new aerial surveillance plane (or “spy plane”) began flying over Baltimore to gather data from above as part of an experimental approach to police work. Apparently, from the height it flies each person on the ground below registers as a single pixel. Throughout space and time, squares are omnipresent and pervasive in the contemporary world.