2016 Week Two: Arts
This week, I finally adjusted to the reality of my placement at 901 Arts and the nature of how I am expected to work. It took me a bit of time to adjust to the environment and the independence that I am given to make my own hours and take my own breaks, but it’s my responsibility to finish everything that my boss Sarah has given me on a long list of tasks without a due date. Sometimes during the week, it’s easy to forget the fact that that arts programs require a lot of office work, especially considering that the space I work in is brightly colored and inviting, and my coworker and I engage in conversations about Dwayne Johnson movies and Miles Davis discographies. It’s also a little disorienting still given the fact that the community part of my internship hasn’t exactly started yet–the camp starts this coming Monday. Often throughout the week, I feel frustrated because I don’t do fulfilling tasks nor am I really interacting with people in the neighborhood. Having said that, this week was a little bit more interactive than the first week. I got to meet some of my other coworkers who will come in to be instructors at camp and we did a role playing activity that probably made me a lot more apprehensive about working with kids than it did good. I also went around the neighborhood to pass out registration forms and was able to meet some of 901 Arts’ neighbors, which was something I was hoping to do. I went to a Youth Works training and
A high point of the week I went to see Adam Jackson, the CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle speak on Monday night at the 29th St. Community Center. My boss Sarah was there–she had “required” that I go, and it was kind of cool to see her at this talk because, even though we have a friendly relationship at the office, it’s still kinda different to see your boss outside of work. In the spirit of talking to new people and pursuing things that interested me, I struck up a conversation with a woman named Nadirah who was sitting behind the table to sell CDs and promote LBS. She and I talked about hip hop and what LBS does to use music to promote political messages around the city. I reached out to her because it might be cool to learn more about Baltimore’s own artists. I don’t know how much I would be able to get involved this summer, but Sarah was encouraging of me going off and doing my own projects to tie back to 901 Arts. It would be cool to look into seeing performances, if not directly through my internship, maybe with other people in CIIP. This week’s Bites of Baltimore was really engaging as well. I knew that I got lost running in Guilford for a reason–I guess I didn’t realize that the streets were intentionally meant to be confusing.
In all, this week was definitely an improvement from last. I’m looking forward to meet the Youth Works students and the campers as well.
I’ve never felt so oriented in my life. A week after a week-long CIIP orientation, I enjoyed another week of orientation for mural program interns at Jubilee.
Next week, I’ll be joining 80 or so Youth Works kids for another awesome orientation.
Orientations aside, this week I felt genuinely in-touch with the neighborhood around my internship site. It feels like I’ve been a presence there, patrolling up and down Pennsylvania Avenue asking business owners to sign various contracts.
One contract is used to qualify a property for Civic Works; money set aside by the state to aide business owners with subsidized façade improvements in the wake of rioting on Pennsylvania Avenue during the Baltimore uprising in 2015.
“Did you apply for that grant?” asked my supervisor Nora.
“Oh yeah, we applied for that last October or something” the storeowner said ponderously.
Nora replied: “Yep, they’re finally acting on that now.”
At the end of the day, I like to imagine that the cooperation of the Arr @ Work mural program, Youth Works placements, and Civic Works amounts to something inspired by New Deal arts programs (Federal Art Project, WPA, that sort of thing). Alongside producing publically funded art and coordinating civic improvements, Art@ Work acts as a public summer employment program for Baltimore youth.
“I can feel the gears of bureaucracy grinding me up already” – man in a cartoon I sketched on the back of a Youth Works information sheet at a Youth Works supervisor orientation this past Thursday.
At the Youth Works orientation, there was a humid sense of frustration and confusion among the attendees. The lighting in the auditorium was on the dark side of dim, and the mics were shot. This scenario derailed both the presenters and the audience alike. Further, the presenters were hostile to several of the people asking questions.
After several segments of the presentation passed, my boredom eased and I came to anticipate the final segment of the orientation: payroll, the one genuinely informative and important piece of a three-hour program.
The strategy, of course, was to stick payroll at the end so that people would stay for the whole duration.
To be fairly honest, this week began to feel routine, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’ve had plenty of work to do, much of it involving interaction with avenue storeowners. Art @ Work has been scrambling to get ready for the program’s start date on Monday the 27th, and preparing for that makes me excited to meet the young people employed with us this summer.
Outside of work, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice drawing this past week, which feels good since I’ve been drawing less often these past few years. I’ve also been biking to work every day, which is satisfying because the only time I ever get exercise is when I have to bike somewhere routinely.
I am <strong>not<strong> a programmer. I have never coded before. I do not really plan to code in the future. However, this week, I was given the opportunity to learn how to use wordpress and some HTML to help update Wide Angle’s website. This was a neat opportunity, but find it slightly tedious, as I try the same code over and over with 99.5 playing the same songs on a loop. While I am introverted, I do really enjoy spending time around people and in the community over sitting at a computer.
A much more enjoyable part of the week was spending time at the Govans Farmers’ Market. The people were kind and friendly, coming to our tent and admiring the student photographs we had on display, a few finding familiar faces. “I sing with him” one girl said while pointing at a smiling boy’s portrait. Telling new people about the opportunities we offer and finding new young people who are interested in media is exciting to me. I deeply enjoying hearing others’ stories and learning about their interests and passions, so the trip to this small sunny farmers’ market was a great break from coding at a desk.