Thesis Projects

Class of 2018


ALT(E)R CALL | NO CHURCH IN THE WILD
Curated by Ash Lynch

May 5-June 16, 2018 
Opening Reception: May 5, 2018 (7-9pm)
Washington Project for the Arts 
2124 8th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001

FEATURED ARTISTS
S. Rasheem
Babirye Leilah
Alicia Garza
Adejoke Tugbiyele
Zanele Muholi
Omar Thomas
Seyi Adebanjo
Myles S. Golden
Sisipho Mandy Ndzuzo
Kai M. Green
Lee Mokobe
Yoruba Richen
Kara Keeling
Sergio Ignato

ALT(E)R CALL | NO CHURCH IN THE WILD brings together national and international artists, scholars, activists, and cultural producers to address socio-political issues relating to race, gender, and sexuality.  The exhibition opens at Washington Project for the Arts (2124 8th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001) with a reception on May 5, 2018 and runs through June 16th, 2018.

Included in the exhibition are Baltimore-based artist S. Rasheem, Ugandan sculptor Babirye Leilah, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, sculptor Adejoke Tugbiyele, visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi, composer Omar omas, mixed-media artist Seyi Adebanjo, multi-media artist Myles S. Golden, musician and dancer Sisipho Mandy Ndzuzo, lmmaker and scholar Kai M. Green, South African slam poet and activists Lee Mokobe, film director, screenwriter, and producer Yoruba Richen, scholar Kara Keeling, and film producer Sergio Ignato.

ALT(E)R CALL | NO CHURCH IN THE WILD explores historical and contemporary notions of being Black LGBTQ and free through the use of contemporary art, including, painting, photography, film, sculpture, and installation, as well as music, historical texts, archives, and ephemera. “ The participants are freedom fighters.  Their work intervenes and interrupts the traditional portraiture of black liberation leaders. They are suggesting, ‘no one’s free until we are all free,’” notes Ash Lynch,an MFA Candidate in Curatorial Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and PhD Candidate in African Studies at Howard University.

The exhibition will open in conjunction with MICA Grad Show 2018, which showcases the culminating work of more than 150 of MICA’s graduate students from the College’s internationally renowned programs through ground breaking exhibitions, presentations, and public programs.



SOCIAL INGREDIENTS 
Curated by Rebecca Lu

April 7-29, 2018
Opening Reception: April 7, 2018 (7-10pm)
Current Space
421 N Howard St., Baltimore, MD 21201

FEATURED ARTISTS
Nobutaka Aozaki
Christine Ferrera 
Rosemary Liss 
Christine Stiver
Tracie Jiggetts
Tattfoo Tan

Social Ingredients explores the significance of meal production and consumption as both a social component of everyday life and a meaningful art practice through sculpture, installation, video, performance, and public programs. The exhibition will be on view at Current Space (421 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21201) from April 7 to 29 with an opening reception on April 7th from 7-10pm. 

Featuring artists Nobutaka Aozaki, Christine Ferrera, Rosemary Liss, Christine Stiver and Tracie Jiggetts, and Tattfoo Tan, Social Ingredients provides an artistic viewpoint on the preparation, hosting and consumption of food, examining how people’s relationships with others are influenced by the meals they eat together, while creating a platform for diverse audiences to connect their everyday life with art.

The exhibition’s development is led by public programs, which took place at several art and non-art venues from February to March 2018. These events, workshops, and performances included: a Chinese Lunar New Year event featuring the screening of the movie, Eat Drink Man Womanalongside a Chinese potluck communal dinner at New America Diner; performances by Christine Ferrera Starbux Diary, and Christine Stiver and Tracie Jiggetts Too Damn Sincere at Showroom Café & Bar; and a pair of artmaking workshops recreating New York artist Tattfoo Tan’s project Eat Draw Play at R. House.  

In the Social Ingredients exhibition at Current Space, the documentation and research process of the project, as well as the outcomes and ephemera from the public programs, will be presented. At the opening reception on April 7th, artist Rosemary Liss will transform catering into an art piece and provide a special food experience for the audience. Christine Ferrera, Christine Stiver, and Tracie Jiggetts will also present variations of the pieces previously performed at Showroom Café in March. An updated, Baltimore version of artist Nobutaka Aozaki’s participatory work, Smiley Bag Portrait from 2013, will also be on view. This piece will be re-contextualized as part of Aozaki’s upcoming live performance on Thursday, April 12th from 6-8pm at R. House (301 W 29th St, Baltimore, MD 21211).



PATHS OF PERCEPTION
Curated by Hui (Becky) Li

March 29-April 19, 2018 
Opening Reception: March 29, 2018 (5-7pm)
Cylburn Arboretum
Hours: Tuesday-Friday | 8am-5pm

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Eric Corriel
Paul Daniel 
Susan Humphrey
Alfredo Rodriguez Medrano
Samantha Sethi

Paths of Perception, an experiential and participatory exhibition, addresses environmental affairs through public artworks installed within Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum. The show, featuring work of six artists—Eric Corriel, Paul Daniel, Susan Humphrey, Alfredo Rodriguez Medrano and Samantha Sethi—opens March 29th and will be on view through April 19th. A reception with the artists will be held at Cylburn’s Vollmer Center (4915 Greenspring Ave.) on March 29th from 5 pm - 7 pm.

Curated by Hui (Becky) Li, a candidate of Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) MFA in Curatorial Practice program, Paths of Perception provides insight into how artistic practices can create awareness about the natural world and how nature itself can aid in the creation of works of art. It encourages visitors to explore the beauty of nature, questioning their own ties to the multiple relationships between human activity and the surrounding environment.

Paths of Perception will feature video, sculpture, performance, and installation to underscore timely environmental concerns as it relates to the changing landscape and the continued loss of once-cherished places. Examples include Paul Dainel’s Red Eye (2007), a large-scale kinetic outdoor sculpture that addresses our everyday experience and interaction with nature, and Samantha Sethi’s Cause and Effect (2017), a sculpture of an iceberg made from foam insulation, a material that is antithetical to the iceberg’s existence.



Eye in the Sky
Curated by Ian Chen

March 10-April 1, 2018
Opening Reception: March 10, 2018 (3-5pm)
Graffiti Warehouse 
128 W North Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Hasan Elahi
Chuxi Guo
Joana Moll

Eye in the Sky is an exhibition examining surveillance and privacy issues in the 21st century and will be on view from Saturday, March 10th to Sunday, April 1st at Graffiti Warehouse (128 W North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21201). The opening reception will be held on March 10th, from 3:00-5:00pm. 

The robust growth of surveillance erodes privacy, but most people remain unaware of its pervasiveness. “We are situated in an era of technology,” says curator Ian Chen, an MFA candidate in Maryland Institute College of Art's Curatorial Practice program. “It allows people to receive an abundance of information quickly. However, most people do not even notice that the convenience of the internet increases their risk of being monitored. It is an ongoing issue, but it happens everyday in our daily lives”

Eye in the Sky’s diverse group of artists use new media and technology to alter the viewer's perception and refract the panoptic gaze. Hasan Elahi (USA), a surveillance target himself, creates complex, multidisciplinary works exploring the relationship between privacy and personal data. After learning that he was being monitored, Elahi embarked on a voluntary project of self-surveillance in an attempt to clear himself. “Basically, I share everything about myself,” says Elahi, who notes he also maintains “an incredibly private life.” Chuxi Guo (China) combines new media, participatory components, and sculpture to create his interactive installations. Guo critiques the political aspects of Chinese surveillance as part of a new generation of artists who are unpacking their socio-political landscape. Guo believes that, though we are all being surveilled by an authority, we can still aim at securing a level of privacy in our thoughts and internal lives. Joana Moll (Spain) explores the ethics of surveillance and legitimacy. Moll combines research, media, and interactivity into her work and reverses the roles of the observer and the observed. This experience allows the audience to question the legitimacy of surveillance. Eye in the Sky merges the selected artworks, exhibition design, and the exhibition space as one in order to provide a sensory experience to the audience.

Eye in the Sky will be on view at Graffiti Warehouse, which offers a non-traditional space for artistic creations and exhibitions. Graffiti Warehouse is one of Baltimore’s hidden gems, and visitors need to explore a bit in order to access the space.



BABBLE
Curated by Yuzhuo Mark Zhang

March 2-28, 2018
Opening Reception: March 2, 2018 (7-9pm)
Gallery CA
On View Monday-Friday 12-4pm & By Appointment 

FEATURED ARTISTS
Naoko Wowsugi
Alina and Jeff Bliumis
Brendan Fernandes
Lucio Pozzi
Jianfeng Yao
Gerald Leavell II 

Babble Explores Language Barriers in an Increasingly Connected World
New multimedia exhibition opens at Station North’s Gallery CA on March 2nd. 

Babble, an exhibition addressing the impact of language barriers in challenging and insightful ways, opens at Gallery CA on March 2 and runs through March 28. 

Babble investigates how language barriers alter verbal communication and understanding. “I have struggled with language, and it influences every aspect of my life in America,” says curator Yuzhuo (Mark) Zhang, a Chinese immigrant and MFA candidate at Maryland Institute College of Art’s Curatorial Practice Program. “These artists share their personal experiences with language barriers in provocative ways, and from dynamic perspectives.”

Babble features seven national and international artists. Naoko Wowsugi, a Washington DC-based multidisciplinary artist of Korean and Japanese descent, reflects on overcoming her struggles learning English; New York-based artists Alina and Jeff Bliumis address language barriers in academia as well as in everyday life in New York through installations and photographs; In two documentary-styled videos, Canadian artist Brendan Fernandes, with cultural and family ties to India and Kenya, investigates how various accents can impact verbal communication; Italian New York-Based multidisciplinary artist Lucio Pozzi tells a story in a nonsensical language, with a plot  enhanced by the buildup of sound, physical gestures, and facial expressions; and Chinese artist Jianfeng Yao tells his own story of coming to the U.S. and confronting isolation, fear, and loneliness. Baltimore-based artist Gerald Leavell II uses several different languages, as well as non-verbal gestures, to reflect upon the world traveler’s experiences with cross-cultural communication barriers and methods of understanding.     

Baltimore, as a harbor city and a hub for education, business and healthcare, attracts people from around the country and around the world, making the understanding of languages and clear communication increasingly important. In the state of Maryland alone there are 1.1 million non-English speakers, not counting the multitude of different accents, cultural differences, academic and professional jargons, and various modes of communication and perception. Language barriers are encountered by everyone, by non-native and native speakers alike, in an increasingly globally connected world—making the need for people’s voices to be heard as we strive to build a global village connecting people wherever they are.

www.babblebabble.com 
#BabbleBaltimore



BLACKBIRD
Curated by Alexis Dixon

March 9-30, 2018
Opening Reception: March 9, 2018 (6-9pm)
Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center 

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Nakeya Brown
Phylicia Ghee
Katelyn Brown
Asha Elana Casey 

BLACKBIRD spotlights the work of four artists investigating the significant nuances of Black womanhood through installation, photography, and mixed-media. The exhibition opens at Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center (847 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21201) with a reception on March 9th, 2018 from 6 to 9 pm, and will remain on view from March 9th through March 30th, 2018.
                    
BLACKBIRD invites Black women artists to claim artistic space in the midst of navigating a world that marks the existence of Black women as invisible. The participating artists implode the wall of invisibility by paying reverence to their lineage and highlighting the ways in which their ancestry manifests in their work and life. The work is a collective representation of the ways in which Black women seek their own versions of liberation through ancestral reverence, healing, and cultural and self-preservation, all the while weaving in notions of spirituality.
                    
Through a series of studio-constructed photographs, Nakeya Brown honors the stories of her grandmother and countless other Black women who have worked in the industrial and domestic labor force. In honoring one’s ancestors, the preservation and passing down of their practices and culture inevitably follows. Phylicia Ghee explores and preserves the tradition of quilting, an art that has been passed down in her family for generations. And while connection to ancestry is important, trauma that is passed down through familial ties and inherited by subsequent generations of Black women must be acknowledged. Taking autonomy of her healing and coupling it with her artistic practice, Katelyn Brown uses needle and thread to symbolically mend past and present traumas. Asha Elana Casey details gures of African descent in large scale paintings and explores how heal- ing situates itself in the realm of spirituality.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS:
Day of Self-Care with Phylicia Ghee & The Black Pearl Project
April 29, 2018
Participating artist Phylicia Ghee will facilitate a private day of self-care merged with creative practice.



DEPART AFRICA
Curated by Fitsum Shebeshe

November 2-22, 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 2 (4:30-7pm)
Baltimore School for the Arts 

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Amare S. Worku
Gabriel C. Amadi-Emina

Depart Africa, a multidisciplinary exhibition investigating hybrid cultural identity, opens at Baltimore School for the Arts on November 2. Presented by Maryland Institute College of Art’s MFA in Curatorial Practice program, the exhibition explores the effects of immersing oneself in a new culture and environment and encourages visitors to interact with participating artists. An opening reception will be held from 4:30pm – 7:00pm on November 2, and the show remains open until November 22.

The works on view explore the architecture of assimilations that contemporary African artists build as they establish a new discourse upon moving to the U.S. It investigates the hybrid cultural identities of two artists: Amare S. Worku, a lecturer at MICA and Montgomery College, and Gabriel C. Amadi-Emina, a Photographic & Electronic Media MFA candidate at MICA. Both artists work within a white majority society and use cultural assimilation as a point of departure in their work.

Depart Africa will utilize painting, installation, video, and photography to articulate the experience of assimilation and the creation of hybrid identities as mechanisms of adaption. Examples include Amare’s I Belong Here (2015) painting, that investigates how relocation can affect artistic practice in the formation of a new cultural identity that leads to the creation of a new self, and Gabriel’s Us toogo Chop! (2016) photographic sequence, which touches on various interactions and encounters experienced by the artist, with both his new landscape and its citizens.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS:
Free public seminar & Artist-led workshop: November 28, 2:00pm-5pm


 

Class of 2017


THE GUN SHOW

Curated by Liz Faust 

April-October 2017 
John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218
Ynot Lot, 1904 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21218
Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, 409 W Martin St. Raleigh, NC 27603
UMBC Center for Art Design & Visual Culture, 1000 Hilltop Cir., Baltimore, MD 21250

The Gun Show is a traveling collection of one hundred mock assault rifles made entirely from industrial and household objects. This exhibition was created by using David Hess, a sculptor and public artist for over thirty years, who was influenced by the rise of gun violence as a threat to public health. The show’s purpose is to create a platform for cross-communication and education about gun violence and gun safety through both temporary pop-up and more permanent exhibitions around the country. 

www.hessgunshow.com



Creative Alchemy: Common Source of Art and Science 
Curated by Carol Rhodes Dyson 

April 29-June 30, 2017
Howard University's Interdisciplinary Research Building 
2201 Georgia Avenue, NW., Washington, DC

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Anne Bouie
Roslyn Cambridge
Fletcher Mackey
Evangeline “EJ” Montgomery
Angelina Samudre
Platt Studios 
Renee Stout and Meridian Public Charter School Visual Arts program under the instruction of Chinedu Felix Osuchukwu.  

Creative Alchemy: Common Source of Art and Science is an exhibition exploring intersections of art, science and spirituality. What are intersections between art, science and spirituality?  Often considered dissimilar and unrelated, connecting these areas is the subject of Creative Alchemy: Common Source of Art and Science, an exhibition at Howard University’s Interdisciplinary Research Building. The exhibition opens Saturday, April 29 and runs thru Friday, June 30, 2017. The opening reception on the 29th is from 2 to 5 pm and is free and open to the public.  Several of the artists will be in attendance.

Artists and scientists generally begin with an idea or concept for imagining change or solving a problem. Through creativity, inquiry, and exploration, the artist’s final product is a magical, unique, one of a kind creation while the scientist’s discovery is magical, unique, and replicable.

Common Source refers to that mind, that cauldron, that realm of ideas, possibilities and intuitive understanding. from which all things come.

Each floor of Howard University’s Interdisciplinary Research Building has a separate focus: nanotechnology (second), biological (third), and environmental (fourth).

The exhibition begins on the first floor with a Homage to George Washington Carver, mystic, artist, educator and scientist whose work encompassed an understanding of the Divine Nature and connectivity of all things.  Often within traditional African societies, the greatest scientist was also the greatest spiritualist, and it is with this referent that the exhibition was developed.

Nanno technology, the study of extremely small things, is the emphasis of research on the second floor.  The third floor research concentration is biological (e.g., Ebola, HIV, Zika, Sickle Cell).  And, on the fourth floor is environmental research and the study of cities’ air quality.  Artists’ work respond to issues and questions pertaining to the various investigations on each floor.

Howard University’s Biology Department has loaned plants related to Carver’s work in agriculture.



Everyday Utopias 
​​​​​​
Curated by Sheena M. Morrison 

April 15-May 7, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 15, 2017 (4pm-8:30pm)
Pool No. 2, Druid Hill Park 

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Billy Colbert
Sutton Demlong
Andrew Keiper
Fluid Movement
Tiffany Jones
Lauren R. Lyde
Antonio McAfee
Edward-Victor Sanchez
Michael Trueblood
Joyce J. Scott

Druid Hill Park Exhibition Exhumes the Promises of a Once-Segregated Pool
Contemporary artworks dignify identity and cultivate hope over despair


The Maryland Institute College of Art’s MFA program in Curatorial Practice and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks presents Everyday Utopias, a public art installation at Pool No. 2 in Druid Hill Park. The exhibition is on view April 15, 2017–May 7, 2017 daily from dawn to dusk at Pool No. 2, Druid Hill Park, Shop Road Commissary Road, Baltimore, MD 21217. Rain Date: April 22, 2017

Pool No. 2 (1921-1956) operated as a segregated pool in the historically black section of Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park. From the initial campaign to construct the city’s first public pool for black people to the resolute activism that led to its eventual closure, Pool No. 2 reflects the quotidian pragmatism of an “everyday utopia”—a term coined specifically to define those creative practices that we engage in daily to find new and better ways to improve our lives and the world around us.

Everyday Utopias invites viewers to consider the promise of both real and imagined aspects of civic participation as they navigate their way through physical structures and spiritual spaces of the pool’s remains. Pool No.2 was a local flashpoint for the discourse on race that was happening nationally in American society during the mid-1950s and is a physical reminder that the failures and struggles of our

PUBLIC PROGRAMS:
Curator in Attendance: 4/20 (5pm-8pm) | 4/28 (5pm-8pm) | 5/3 (3pm-6pm)
Youth After-School Pool Party: May 3
Artist Talk: May 6
Closing Reception: May 7

PARTNERS:
Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Baltimore Heritage, Friends of Druid Hill Park, School 33 Art Center, Baltimore Office of Arts & Promotion.



FRONT
Curated by Betty Gonzales

Opening Tour: Saturday, April 22, 2017 (4pm-6pm)
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 22, 2017 (7pm-9pm) 

FEATURED ARTISTS
Precious Blake, Graham Coreil-Allen, Brian Davis, Freespace Collective 

This spring, The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is proud to present the MFA in Curatorial Practice thesis exhibition FRONT, a five-person project featuring new works by Graham Coreil-Allen, Precious Blake, Brian Davis, and FreeSpace Collective members Billy Friebele and Michael Dax Iacovone. This exhibition is curated by 2017 MFA candidate and emerging curator Betty Gonzales. Inspired by creative placemaking efforts initiated in Baltimore by organizations looking to spark life in certain parts of the city, FRONT is a series of events and artworks intended to address issues of urban renewal by reimagining vacant storefronts and buildings throughout the Bromo Arts and Entertainment District.

The aim of this project is to ignite conversations and awareness of various spaces within the Bromo Arts District by providing multiple ways of experiencing and discussing the people, places, and history whose character and culture is now at stake with the amount of proposals for new development within the designated arts district. Artists, community members, and visitors are encouraged to walk through and interact with the spaces and people around them that are intended to enrich their understanding and appreciation of one of Baltimore’s youngest Arts and Entertainment Districts.

Augmented reality (AR) is digital imagery superimposed over the viewer’s environment in real time through the use of a geo-location-based mobile application developed by Brian Davis and FreeSpace Collective. The works will spark the imagination of the viewers while encouraging them to think more critically about their environment. AR can define spaces by providing a malleable approach to creative placemaking without physically altering a space. Through this method, meaning is injected into spaces through educating the audience about their surroundings. Using technology to redefine space by placing a virtual layer over the world with geographic specificity allows for the reimagining and reinventing of public spaces, and through that process, ownership of the streets can take place.

Public artist Graham Coreil-Allen will lead a two-part series of walking tours titled Bromo Spectacular! that will focus on the history, design & uses of key sites representative of the area’s heritage, culture, and development. Participants are invited to join these New Public Sites walks to creatively explore the district’s little known histories, urban design successes and challenges, and current artist-led redevelopment projects.

Front the book is an illustrated activity guide by Precious Blake that works in conjunction with Graham Coreil-Allen’s Bromo Spectacular! walking tours. The guide is a coloring book, note taking pad and informational booklet. With written captions by Coreil-Allen, Blake vibrantly illustrates stops on the tour that particularly speak about the effects of urban architecture, modes of transport, and public spaces on social and racial inequalities in Baltimore City.



Common Senses
Curated by Dasol Kim 

Part 1: February 4-25, 2017
Project 1628
Part 2: April 2-30, 2017
Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Part 1: Seungtack Lim, Steve Totin, Woojung Ko
Part 2: Paul Hy Kim, Madeline Stratton, Abby Song, Doohyun Yoon, James Cole

While the first part of Common Senses —which ran at Bolton Hill’s Project 1628 Gallery in February—focused on 3D work, this show will feature 2D work that similarly activates multisensory experiences and cultivates a deeper understanding of how we perceive the world around us. Common Senses Pt. 2 is curated within the theme of synesthesia and the five human senses with various multisensory artworks. The participating artists were invited to create artistic responses to the show’s theme, musicians will respond to the art with improvised performances, and audience members will respond to both the art and the music at the opening reception through a series of interactive prompts.

Curated by Dasol Kim, a graduate student in MICA’s MFA in Curatorial Practice program, the exhibition features wide-ranging works from four Baltimore-based artists (Paul HY Kim, Abby Song, Madeline Stratton, and James Cole) and one New-York based artist (Doohyun Yoon) in a spacious and welcoming setting to facilitate interactivity. As an art-and-psychology exhibition, Common Sensespresents new audience opportunities for intuitive interaction and transformative encounters. By emphasizing how sight, sound, smell, and touch can affect and alter reality and perception in the audience, it facilitates greater overall awareness and fresh insight into the work on display. Inspired by the magical phenomenon called synesthesia, it also heightens multisensory perception and prompts unexpected encounters that allow visitors to experience new ways of holistically absorbing art.

Synesthesia is the combined perception of two or more senses and is a psychological phenomenon where one sense triggers associations with another sense. Hearing a sound, for instance, may trigger seeing a color, as in hearing a car horn might cause someone to see the color blue.

This interaction will allow the audience to engage with artworks more deeply by understanding each work through the lens of synesthesia. The exhibition aims to teach how synesthesia affects our perception of art. Each work of art is created with two or more senses such as sight, sound, scent, hearing, and taste, in order to stimulate our imagination beyond our common notion, and give different and new forms of perception when two or more senses are intertwined.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS:
Soul + Art music performance
April 2nd, 2017
Gary Thomas and Blake Meister, two world-renowned jazz musicians, will respond to the artworks displayed in the gallery and the overall concept of the show through an improvisational performance.



YOU ARE HERE
Curated by Yvonne Hardy-Phillips 

April 2016-Ongoing 
Opening Reception: Sunday, October 9, 2016 (3-5pm)
1137-1139 Hartford Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201

FEATURED ARTISTS:
Nicole Fall
Gaia
Deb Jenson
Megan Lewis
Christ Metzger
New Edition Marching Band
Tiffany Small
Joyce J. Scott
& works by congregation members from Nazarene Baptist Church

You Are Here is a project on the corner of Hartford and Biddle Streets that transforms two iconic properties, using images based on East Baltimore’s history. These murals serve as visual expressions of the resilience of the community and self-determination of its residents. 

Exhibition curator and MICA 2017 MFA candidate, Yvonne Hardy-Phillips likens this project to the act of wrapping the site with art and serving as a present and future place marker, commemorating the unfolding history of East Baltimore. You Are Here punctuates the use of art as activism and as a tool to promote community development by engaging its creative class.

In the You Are Here project, two muralists and works by five artists transform the exterior wall surfaces of two buildings, creating cultural sign posts that herald a community on the rise once again—phoenix-like—in beauty and truth. The photographer Chris Metzger wheat-pasted largescale black and white photographs of community residents on the south wall of the two-story building at Hartford and Biddle Streets. Entitled I Am That I Am, this mural pays tribute to the image of striking Memphis sanitation workers by Ernest Withers.

International Baltimore-based artist Gaia created a mural on the north side of the site. His mural serves as a memorial to Mrs. Henrietta Lacks; an African American woman whose blood cells were sampled and tested without her knowledge and/or consent at Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH). It was discovered that her cells were able to survive and multiply outside of the human body. As a result of the harvesting of her cells, medical research was revolutionized, making it possible to find vaccines and lifesaving medications the world over. Neither, JHH or the international medical research and pharmaceutical communities ever compensated Mrs. Lacks or her family. Rendered in brilliant seas of blues, this mural contains bold portraits of central characters in the Lacks’ story, including Henrietta Lacks and Johns Hopkins, highlighting a terse unruly history. These murals are intended to foster discussion as it relates to race, history and a sense of place.

In addition, works by the artists Joyce J. Scott, glass and mixed media artist; sculptor, Nicole Fall; fiber artist, Deb Jenson; designer, Tiffany Small and muralist, Megan Lewis will be added to the murals already on display. These artists bring additional context to the dialogue generated by the I Am That I Am mural, which addresses issues of empowerment, and the Lacks mural that graphically expounds on her special story, in which she surfaces as a heroine within the medical sphere. Scott, Fall, Jenson, Small and Lewis have mined the Oliver community creating works that specifically relate its African American constituency and the histories they embody.

The curator, Yvonne Hardy-Phillips, envisioned this project as a way to physically map the rich cultural story of historic central East Baltimore through portrait photography, oral interviews and site-specific public art. The idea grew out of the realization that the neighborhoods of Oliver and Johnston Square (on the eastside of the city) were not included in the Baltimore City Heritage Area map, a National Park Service certified designation as of 2001. The ultimate objective of You Are Here is to foster the development and historic recognition of the Oliver community through creative interventions. Through the use of art and creative uses, it is anticipated that the community with be designated as a Baltimore City Heritage Area in the near future.