2018 Week 4: Arts

picture of Toby Harris CIIPTOBY HARRIS | OPEN WORKS

Browsing through Facebook last Sunday night, an article the Baltimore Sun posted catches my eye: “Baltimore’s Open Works launches commercial fabrication shop; aims for a manufacturing program renaissance.” It was cool to see the city’s paper take an interest in Open Works, read the quotes different coworkers had in the article, and discuss the piece with different folks throughout the week. (http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-open-works-commercial-shop-20180619-story.html). Monday started with different meetings with the two instructors leading the programming next week, laser cutting and 3D printing, to flush out action plans and go over final details. I enjoyed being part of these collaborative discussions and planning sessions and felt like I was able to contribute valuable input that was taken into consideration when structuring how exactly the teen’s days would flow and determining when different activities would occur. That night, Erricka Bridgeford spoke to the entire ciip cohort, and it was pretty moving to hear about the ceasefire movement from her founding perspective. Posters promoting the August ceasefire are now hanging in Open Works and my apartment. My work on Tuesday served as a good reminder to not under estimate the time commitment more “administrative” tasks take, printing and putting together all the teen’s summer materials took me a good portion of the day. I will say I found it quite useful to finally read through all the safety manuals for the different shops and I was happy to handle a task that would have kept Nacho or another Open Works staff member from other works. Tuesday night we had the first orientation for the Teen Makers and it was awesome to meet half of the teens who we’ll be working with this summer, give them a tour of the space and handle some administrative tasks. I enjoyed breakfast at Peete’s on our day off on the 4th with a few members from the ciip arts group, Nancy and Naadiya, and then Naadiya and I caught Incredibles 2 at the senator! Was happy to escape the heat for a bit and we also had a lovely time chatting and walking up to the theatre. Thursday saw more emailing and coordinating work for the summer programming and I was able to catch up with a dear friend and ciip superstar, Jessa Wais, for a bit in the coffee lab. I was off Friday and then had another exciting orientation on Saturday, meeting the other half of the Teen Makers and getting them a bit more positioned to the space. The Teen Makers officially start tomorrow and I could no be more excited to move through the day with them as they get introduced to their respective studios and projects! I’ve been fielding texts from a few of the Teen Makers too so its great seeing them getting ready and thinking ahead to their summer too, answers included notes that “unfortunately we wont have free coffee for them Monday but definitely will talk to the coffee shop about discounts” and that “we don’t have their bus passes yet but in theory a rep from youth works will be swinging by with timesheets and bus passes on Monday,” although I must say I’m interested to see how this will play out with that. I don’t want to end on a skeptical note, since I really am quite excited to see things kick off tomorrow and get the Teen Maker’s programming underway after helping to plan their time at Open Works!



Halfway into the internship and I feel like I’ve only just found my routine: time really has passed fast this summer. A meeting with the hired graphic designer revealed ideas for rebranded logo designs and website layouts that will hopefully be revealed sometime soon this summer. I spent most of this week continuing to work on the upcoming website, compiling information, constructing a ‘Station North’ organization and information map, and taking and editing photos–a few of which I’ve pasted below to better describe my wanderings:


I’m looking forward to having more opportunities this next/last month to take more exciting, people-involved photos, by contacting artists in their studios and other district businesses, and attending the coming Artscape!



Although it is week four of the Community Impact Internship Program, this past week was only week 2 of the Art@Work program hosted by Jubilee Arts, where the youth workers have been learning about safety in the heat, planning mural designs with their lead artists and artist interns, and presenting their mural designs to the community in a formal presentation at the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation. I was particularly excited about the community mural presentations because the families of the youth workers would get to see the fruition of all their hard work. Besides, the designs are incredible, and I cannot wait to see what they look like once they have been completed on the walls of Druid Heights. Despite the fact that Jubilee Arts is housed in a relatively small space, it uses the space to its full capacity with Art@Work Druid Heights using it as a headquarters along with Youth in Business, and the numerous craft and clay classes that go on each week. After Youth in Business and Art@Work go home, there are dance classes for local teams or for toddlers held in the studio downstairs. That same studio also serves as a church on Sundays, and as a gallery space. Four large portraits can be opened to become a wall lined with mirrors, such as in a proper dance studio. I was interested in working with Jubilee Arts not because I am a visual artist myself but because I am a supporter of the arts community in general. The arts I practice are dance, which I have been doing for almost 17 years, and poetry. When I found out that Jubilee Arts had dance classes for children, I reached out to the dance teacher, Jade Davis, and let her know that if she ever needs help with her classes, I am more than willing to volunteer. She was ecstatic, making it seem as if she could really use the extra support. I have yet to actually help out in a dance class but I am looking forward to it. This past week, the Youth in Business youth had a presentation about healthy relationships that was centered around “Telling Your Story”. The youth were guided through a series of slides explaining the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset, the anatomy of a story, and the different types of speakers. They were then asked to present a 3 minute story about anything. It was clear that most of these youth grew up around Jubilee because in their stories, the founder of Jubilee Arts, Reverend Harris, appeared. To me, this was heartwarming and refreshing because their work in Jubilee had been such an important part of their lives that the first story that came to their minds to share happened to include Reverend Harris. The relationships these people form with the youth are really important to their development and obviously mean as much to the youth as to the adults.

A moment that saddened me a little with one of the youth was when he told me that he couldn’t stand Baltimore and that he wanted to get the hell out. After being told about all the love and affection we have to pour into the city in order to do good community work, but this was a person that was born and raised in the city who was expressing this feeling. Later, when I talked to a friend of mine about it, she explained to me something she heard at a Food Access event in the city. What she said was that for people who have grown up here, what they are used to seeing, is that they can try as hard as they might, and yet change does not happen. While this was saddening to hear, I could better understand where this youth might be coming from. I just hope that in the near future, with the work of people in the community, change is possible for this city which deserves it so much.



This week was definitely challenging in a lot of ways. Right now, our group is working on mosaics of famous musicians and it is the most tedious and most difficult way to create art. I’m now working on multiple pieces that are either behind schedule, or that have more complicated portraits and helping participants in the program with their pieces. First of all, the finished project will never match the idea you have about it in your head. There is a limited range of colors and only so much you can do with tiny pieces of glass. Wanting to make the piece intricate, as well as legible, makes it difficult to decide what to place where. We’re always striving for capturing the complexity and the details of the people’s faces. But, at the same time, we have to keep things simple enough that the overall design is not lost. This is definitely the most difficult medium I have ever worked with, but that means it is even more rewarding when I’m able to help someone with a particularly difficult area of their mosaic or get to finishing a piece.

The same can be said for non-profit work. You don’t necessarily have all the resources you want, or all the tools to get the job done. But you make it work, you work around obstacles that can’t be changed, or scarcities that can’t be fulfilled. You stretch what you have to the point that you are able to still move forward, beyond these barriers. And even when it seems like the bigger picture isn’t clear, or that it’s completely unattainable, I have to keep pushing forward until I am able to see it. Creating artwork in our workforce development program is supposed to teach our group how to follow through on projects, how to creatively problem solve, and how to take ownership over their actions and abilities. I think helping our group create these works, and gluing down tiny pieces of tile alongside them has taught me all these lessons, even if that wasn’t the original intention.



Fridays are my favorite day – and not just because they signify the beginning of the weekend. We use Fridays to take a break from the client media work that our young people do and instead, focus on addressing bigger topics, whether it’s personal or professional development.

This Friday, we chose to address discrimination in response to some recent events. Two of our students asked to lead an exercise on discrimination by setting up students into three separate lines, one behind the other. We gave each student a crumpled old piece of paper and assigned them all the same task: shoot the makeshift ball into the wastebasket. I watched as the group of students lined up in the front flaunted the ease of this task; they exaggerated the flick of their wrist and boasted at how it was a breeze. The line behind them weaved their heads in and out as they tried to see over the front row for better aim. And the third line – the one all the way in the back – hollered at how impossible the task was, while some students tried bobbing their heads or standing on their tippy toes to even see where they were aiming. The students then rotated between each row.

When the exercise was over, we had a discussion: how did it feel, what did you think? We talked about how it was evidently harder in the back and how it demonstrated how unfair life can be when you identify as a certain sexuality, gender, or race…especially when your identity falls into many of the marginalized categories. However, one of my favorite things that a student said has stuck with me: she mentioned how when she stood in the front row, she forgot about the people struggling behind her. It made her realize how people can be so caught up in their own lives, that they forget to turn back and look at the rest of the world. She continued to say she wished more of us would turn back to help others, instead of turning our backs on them. But after our whole discussion, I’m hopeful that our young people are that change we need.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,