November 2016

Campaign for Change Exhibition

The weekend before Thanksgiving we held an opening for our Campaign for Change Exhibition at the McElderry Park Community Resource Center. We put up photos and posters, along with a timeline that showed some of the behind-the-scenes process that went into the project. Over the course of the afternoon, a number of community members came in to check out the exhibit. They were really impressed with the photographic and design skills that the youth displayed in their artwork. We had some interesting and productive conversations about the issues raised by the posters, especially around the issue of vacant houses. 

The week after Thanksgiving, we took the Jr. Viewfinders to go see the exhibit since most of them hadn't made it our the opening. They were excited and proud to see their artwork up on the wall and we had some discussions reflecting on the project. When we returned to MICA PLACE, we did a group drawing project that focused on reflecting more on Campaign for Change. We talked about what parts of the project they liked, what they didn't like, what they thought went well, and what some challenges were. We also reflected on what we learned about the community issues that we'd focused on. It was a productive exercise, and we finished off the session with some cupcakes to celebrate the youth's hard work and wonderful art!


Baltimore Rising Exhibit

This week, we went on a field trip. We headed over to the Lazarus Center on MICA's main campus to check out the Baltimore Rising Exhibit. The Baltimore Rising Exhibit brought together a broad survey of works by 15 artists—with significant ties to Baltimore—who address the social, economic, political and racial issues that propelled the city to the national spotlight in 2015. The work in the exhibit was powerful and moving. While museums aren't always the most entertaining for our younger students, they were quite drawn in and engaged by a number of the works the in show. We were given a tour of the exhibition by Tony Shore, one of the artists whose work was featured, and the youth got to ask him questions about specific pieces of art and the broader exhibition. Due to the content of the artwork, we discussed the uprising in 2015, police-community relations, gentrification, and a host of other issues that face Baltimore. Ultimately, it was a very important exhibit for the youth to see and they seemed to learn new things and take a lot from the experience.

Portraits | Exploring Home

With the Jr. Viewfinders this week, we decided to go back to photography. We had some new students join our program and the first thing they wanted to do was take photos. So, Shan Wallace, an incredible Baltimore photographer and a teacher at Viewfinders, led a workshop on how to take portraits. A lot of Shan's own work is talking to people in Baltimore and taking their portrait, so we modeled the lesson plan off that. After the workshop, we went out in small groups into the neighborhood. The Jr. Viewfinders took a ton of outstanding photos of people, who were willing to give some time to talk and have their photo taken. We not only got great photos, but also had lots of fascinating conversations. Then, Shan and the other instructors offered feedback to the youth about their photos. You can see some of the work from this day below. 

Meanwhile, the Sr. Viewfinders have been steadily working away on Eastside Stories III. They've been checking our cameras out and going all around Baltimore, taking photos. This week, they brought in their cameras and loaded them onto our computers. As a group, we looked through their photos, picking favorites and offering feedback. So far, the photos were looking awesome! Then, as a group, we started to dig into the concept of home. Guided by a bell hooks article, we discussed the different meaning and contexts of home: physical, spiritual, emotional, familial, and more. Each Sr. Viewfinder came up with their own definition of home and shared it with the group.


Going Door to Door

This week the Jr. Viewfinders went out into the community. With the posters that they designed in hand, they went door to door in small groups to hand out their posters and tell people about this project. We prepped a short script with the youth, so that they could have something to go off if they got nervous. We also handed out flyer invitations to our upcoming Campaign for Change Exhibit at the McElderry Park Community Resource Center. We asked the community members that we talked to if they would hang the posters in their windows, so that others in the community could see and learn about our project.

Overall, the door knocking went incredibly well! Lots of community members answered, listened to the youth as they shared information about our project, and wanted a poster. Many of them thought it was a great project and were happy to be learning about it and interacting with the youth. There were really valuable and insightful conversations had about the issues raised by the posters and how they could be addressed. Sometimes the conversations went even beyond the issues we'd focused on, as community members offered their thoughts on how important youth voices and perspectives are. Lots of people expressed interest in attending our upcoming exhibition, as well! Below are some photos of the community members we interacted with.