West Baltimore Ruins
Photography by Shae McCoy
As described by the artist, West Baltimore Ruins is “a visual story told by West Baltimore’s daughter.” McCoy created the series between 2018 and 2020 as a means of documenting the architectural landscape of the neighborhood in which she was raised, where an estimated one third of buildings are now abandoned.
As physical remains of the past, ruins are typically associated with disuse and decay. McCoy’s photographs point toward the causes behind this neglect in West Baltimore: housing discrimination, urban blight, and lack of investment in renewal that has benefitted other parts of the city. By turning attention—and her camera—to this neglected landscape, McCoy also enlivens it. Her connections to the area and interviews with residents that helped shape the project invest the photographs comprising West Baltimore with a personal perspective, revealing the beauty in the empty and dilapidated structures of West Baltimore.
This virtual presentation on the Library Gallery website displays a selection of images and interviews from the project. The entire series is recorded in McCoy’s 2021 photobook West Baltimore Ruins.
Shae McCoy is a photographer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her work has been featured in major publications such as Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Essence, Baltimore magazine, and Bmore Art, and displayed on the Baltimore Museum of Art website and in the Joan Hisaoka Gallery in Washington, D.C. McCoy is founder of the cultural blog Uncommonrealist.com and has interviewed actors, activists, community leaders, and politicians to create spotlights for local artists. Uncommonrealist was nominated for The Inaugural Southern Blogger Impact Awards in 2016 and featured on local platforms such as Docs Castle Media, and Undaground Radar Magazine. In 2018, the blog won an award for Best Entertainment Website.
On Thursday, March 11, Shae McCoy will present a public artist talk on her work.
Image: Shae McCoy, West Fayette Street, From the series West Baltimore Ruins, 2018–2020.