This exhibition is the culminating group project of students in BHCLA’s “Arts & Social Justice Practicum: Spring 2022.” This course introduces students to concepts of social justice and practices of community-engaged artmaking. It also provides students an opportunity to explore the history and legacies of the Black Arts Movement, and contemporary intersections of art and social justice in Baltimore City.
Ten students exhibited their work on the main quad for one afternoon during this event.
Featured Art Projects:
“Blind Date with a Play“
Liesel Arauz Vallecillo
Blind Date with a Play explores the various issues faced by first-generation low-income and minority students as they transition into and through college. I hope that by putting these stories out in the open for people to connect and relate to, it makes a larger space for conversations surrounding these topics and makes those undergoing those feelings or issues feel like they’re not alone. My project also relates to intergenerational justice as this piece outlines the trauma caused by both intentional and unintentional obligations or expectations given by past generations to the present ones. It highlights areas for improved communication and support so that future generations will hopefully have lower rates of experiencing similar levels of challenges such as imposter syndrome or mental health stigma. So pick up a play! Which story do you think you need to hear right now?
Phone: (562) 292-8281
“The Common Man’s Journey”
The Common Man’s Journey is a short film about John, who like so many, loses their job and spends their day running across their town trying to get food support. Although our current food support systems, like government organizations and nonprofits, are usually viewed as society’s support safety net, the dynamics of power that exist within them often perpetuate the idea that “beggars can’t be choosers.” This idea strips people seeking support of their agency and in turn, results in their needs not being met. The Common Man’s Journey attempts to reveal these mechanisms and make the audience question what and how we can do better. It presents mutual aid and a joint struggle politic as a solution and a way forward. The artist has worked in food justice and community organizing for 6 years. This is their first-time using film as an expressive medium.
Jisun (Ellie) Chang
What is on the other side of your story that you don’t put on? The answer is complicated for Baltimore club music artists, dancers, and DJ’s alike. B-Side, an ‘art zine’, explores the ever-poignant struggles and celebrations that contemporary club music artists experience today.
“Born to Rewrite My Narrative – Reawakened”
The quality and environment of early education is one of the most significant social determinants of health, both physical and mental, and often serves as a means for escaping generational cycles of poverty. Exploring educational inequities in Baltimore, this mixed-media visual art project provides insight into the personal experiences, grievances, and resilient attitudes of black Baltimorean children–a perspective that does not generally make it onto statistics-riddled articles and stereotyped narratives readily circulated. Quotes from interviews with the Youth Champions at Corner Team highlight the academic achievements and personal resilience of black youth in Baltimore in spite of systemic inequities in and negative media on their communities. Black youth in Baltimore have not conformed to the limitations society has placed on them, and by striving to achieve in school, and thus life, black people are telling their own narratives and rewriting the narrative of black skin.
“Radical Retelling, Restoration, and Representation”
The story of Baltimore is of communities mobilizing to fill in the gaps where the City has fallen short. A matrix of pop culture influences, sensationalist and biased media, racism, and ignorance have advanced stereotypes that give this city a bad name. But in the face of challenges like historic and enduring political corruption, City negligence, and institutionalized racism, Baltimore only rises. Ours is a story of resilience, resistance, and creating opportunity from the ground up. This photo series and accompanying oral history is a love letter to the spirit of Baltimore, and of the communities of color that are its lifeblood. Through this immersive visual and audial experience, and in the name of historical justice, I seek to amplify the voices of the people who make this city what it is – and who alone have the authority to tell its (hi)story.
Phone: (646) 662-6280
“Florence Price: A Black Composer in the Classical World”
The history of European classical music has often been (and still is) dominated by white male composers, which means that underrepresented groups, such as African-American composers, don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Florence Price is one of many black classical composers who are often forgotten by the classical world and I believe that this is an injustice that needs to be rectified. This live performance and educational project endeavors to bring light to her achievements and celebrate her contributions to the world of European classical music.
Balance is a mixed media portrait of a Black woman containing embedded images symbolizing some of the beauties and struggles of the intersection between womanhood and Blackness. This portrait was inspired by my love for understanding people and representing the essence of what it means to be human in this world through art. Since most of what Black women face in society is a result of centuries of oppression, this portrait aims to encourage healing justice which is the prioritization of mental health care and healing. In the U.S, many Black women struggle with mental health issues silently due to the lack of accessible mental health care and existing stigmas around mental health. Black women are in a unique position in that not only do they experience mental health disparities across race, but also across gender. I argue that healing for Black women should be normalized and prioritized for the overall health of our communities. In this way, “Balance” portrays the necessary balance between hard work and mental self-care in our lives
Phone: (702) 526-2772
“Vision Mosaics of a Composting Baltimore”
Vision Mosaics of a Composting Baltimore imagines how composting as an alternative waste management practice could benefit both Baltimore’s residents and environment. In America today, most waste is either burned in incinerators or buried in landfills despite the fact that compostable food waste makes up 40% of the waste stream. Baltimore’s Curtis Bay neighborhood is especially affected by these practices; in 2008, the 21226 zip code had the highest quantity of toxic air emissions from stationary sources in the entire nation. This project was in part inspired by the work of the South Baltimore Community Land Trust (SBCLT), which is currently advocating for establishing a new composting facility in South Baltimore.
More information about SBCLT’s work.