May 2017

Community Art Collaborative Festival

Baltimore Viewfinders is part of the Community Art Collaborative (CAC), a partnership between AmeriCorps, MICA, and non-profit arts education organizations all around Baltimore. Each year, all those arts education organizations that are part of CAC come together to curate a show that highlights all the amazing artwork done over the school year by youth from all around Baltimore city.

This year, the exhibition and festival occurred on MICA's main campus in the Pinkard Gallery in late May. For the Viewfinders, we decided to highlight our two most recent projects: Becoming and Eastside Stories III. For Becoming, we printed the magazine covers that youth had created for their superhero personas on poster-sized paper. We also put up some of capes, masks, and shields that they designed. Finally, we had the Becoming wrap up video playing on a computer, so that attendees could see all the awesome video and photo work that went into the project. For Eastside Stories III, we had a copy of the publication that was available for people peruse and look through, along with two photo prints that had previously been in our Finding Home exhibition. Oh, and we also put up the emoji cyanotype prints in a string. Check out this photo of our section of the exhibition!

Then, on Thursday, May 21st, the CAC Festival happened. Youth from all the different organizations around the city came to see the exhibition. There were games, a photo booth, face painting, pizza, and a drum line performance. We took a bunch of the Jr. Viewfinders over to MICA's main campus for the event and they had an awesome time. First, they went straight to our section of the exhibition, checked out their stuff on the wall, and watched the video. Then, they looked around at everyone else's artwork, before diving into the games, food, and face paint. It was an awesome event that highlighted all the amazing arts education work being done in Baltimore every day! Check out the Jr. Viewfinders enjoying themselves at the CAC Festival!

Emoji Project

Having completed Becoming and with only about a month left of after school programming, we decided to work on a short project that we knew the Junior Viewfinders would really enjoy. So, we picked a theme that we were certain they liked: emojis. The Jr. Viewfinders are constantly using emojis on Snapchat and Instagram, and they were all a little obsessed when we brought in emoji stickers for them earlier in the year. 

The first part of the project involved digging into what the emojis really were. We looked at a bunch of emojis and we asked how you would describe that in just a few words. This ended up being a little more interesting than we'd expected, as it proved pretty challenging to really capture some of the emoji faces. Then, each youth picked three or four of their favorite emojis, ones that they would try to replicate. We also made some props so that certain emojis like the heart eyes, the crying with a tear drop, and the devil with horns ones could also be replicated. Next, each youth imitated a few emoji faces and we took up close portraits of them. Here are some great ones! Some of them are pretty obvious, but others might be a little trickier to figure out.

The second part involved using Photoshop and Canva to create fake text messages conversations. The youth used skills they'd acquired earlier in the year to cut out just their faces from their portrait so that it truly resembled an emoji. Then, using some templates we'd set up for them, they created little fake conversations, using their own faces as the emojis! Check it out. 

For the final part of the project, we also returned to an activity we'd done earlier in the year: cyanotype. Last time we tried cyanotype, it was winter and the sun wasn't strong enough to make the process work. But now that we were on the verge of summer, we decided to try it again with their emoji portraits. It worked much better this time! The prints weren't perfect, but you could really see their portraits. However, we put them up in an exhibition, and after a few weeks they'd almost completely faded...which isn't supposed to happen. We think that may be because we didn't rinse of the ink after the prints were finished being exposed, so it continued to expose. Remember to rinse off the ink with water after the prints dry if you ever try this activity in the future!

Learn More About Becoming

Before we go on, I just want to take a moment to share two things from the Becoming project.

First, you can use this curriculum for Part Two of Becoming that this Junior Viewfinders' project. It's available for free.

Second, check out the video below, which puts together all the video work we did, along with some behind the scenes interviews of how we approached this project.

Eastside Stories III Release Celebration

It's here! Eastside Stories III is officially out and available for purchase. To celebrate the incredible work done by our Senior Viewfinders, we held a release celebration that also served as the opening of the second annual OVA Con, a weekend long conference of workshops and performances put on by OVA East and the Baltimore United Viewfinders Collective. 

Beyond releasing Eastside Stories III, this celebration also served as a larger recognition of the Senior Viewfinders. Many of them were part of the original group of youth who created the Baltimore Viewfinders program several years ago. They're quite literally the reason that this program exists. Many of them are also graduating from high school this year, so we wanted to recognize them for that accomplishment, as well. Eastside Stories III served as a final project that demonstrated just how skilled the Senior Viewfinders have become with graphic design, photography, and storytelling.

At the release celebration, several Senior Viewfinders spoke about the impact that Baltimore Viewfinders had on them. They'd learned a lot here, but more than anything, they were grateful for the community of friends and mentors that they'd built. Again and again, they returned to the fact that what makes Baltimore Viewfinders so special is the people who make it happen and the relationships that tie us together.

If you're interested in acquiring an edition of Eastside Stories III, please contact and we'll get you one. 

Cover Image of  Eastside Stories III

Cover Image of Eastside Stories III