The abstract items include "Limn," a large rounded, vessellike object made from cedar two-by-fours and a thick vine; the piece seems to sink into a pedestal. The smell of the cedar comes through as you get close to look inside the sculpture, which gives it a kind of animated presence.
The installation by Porterfield, creator of the independent film "Putty Hill," takes up one wall, where six dozen 20-by 30-inch cellphone pictures form a large quiltlike work. On the opposite wall is a monitor showing a video montage of the same pictures and additional ones.
"All of the photos were taken over the last year," says Porterfield. "It is a personal work in that they are all scenes from [my] daily life … They celebrate the everyday and offer a way of seeing and making sense of the world."
The video, using a flicker technique, intensifies and animates the images, setting up a relationship with the stills on the other wall.
Around the corner is another monitor, this one showing two rough six-minute videos by Barber.
"Bust Chance" uses found footage of a Chinese audience at an acrobatic show. "It's a very collage-ish film and it's about subverting expectations," Barber says.
The other video, "Dwarfs the Sea," also uses found images — photos of men, mostly African-American and Arab, showing little expression.
"I'm not sure what these pictures were," Barber says. "Maybe ID pictures. I am imagining these men were sailors, immigrants. They have an existential loneliness, a lonely so huge it dwarfs the sea."
A verbal description written by Barber and intoned by a mechanical voice-over provides summations of each man, creating a bittersweet montage.
In addition to those videos, Barber will be making fresh ones throughout the Sondheim exhibit. She plans to develop a concept, film it and process it each day and have it showing on a monitor the next day. She will add musical soundtracks to some, computer animation to others. Passers-by will often be invited to be in the films.
"I will be inspired by whatever happens," Barber says.
The idea of fresh art being created daily adds yet another intriguing dimension to an already lively exhibit.
If you go
The 2011 Sondheim Artscape Prize finalists exhibit runs through Aug. 7 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Free admission. Call 443-573-1700 or go to artbma.org