2018 Week 6: Arts
For this week’s sewing studio, the teen Youth Makers and myself had the pleasure of working in the textiles room with Ms.Sharmane. The teens began by getting oriented to the different sewing machines in the studio: the industrial lockstich, walking foot and serger sewing machines, and had a good time making zipper bags. Tuesday saw the cutting the outlining of fabrics for the week’s main project, pajama pants. To my surprise and good fortune, one of the young women asked if I was going to make a pair for myself. I hadn’t thought about whether I would make anything the teens were making but after receiving a shrug from Ms.Sharmane I figured I would try my hand! I really enjoyed getting to work with and along the teens this week, feeling closer to them in many regards as I was more a part of their conversations and involved more directly with what they were doing. However, I’m still deciding how to react to a Teen Maker’s comment that she thought I was in my late 30s after my age came up. Much to my relief, the teens also liked the orange, black and white minions fabric Nacho and I bought a while back. There was just enough of the second fabric we hah bought, an orange and grey flannel print, for me to make myself some pajama shorts. Throughout our time in the studio, there were similar moments of frustration with the Teen Makers as there pajama bottoms came along, but under Ms.Sharmane’s watchful eye everyone was able eventually able to pull it together and bounce back. It felt especially special to help one of the Teen Makers with the final stitches of their last hem, after having struggled a bit with this step. I absolutely adore my pair of flannel pajama shorts and was grinning/geeking out over them much to the Teen Makers amusement. I enjoyed getting to work with the Teen Makers in a different sense this week and appreciate their general humor and openness to working with me!
With the constant downpour of rain this weekend I didn’t really get the Artscape photos I expected: there weren’t many sunny festival photos, or pictures of people packing the streets, holding ice cream and lemonade. What I did get, though, were soaked barefoot people jamming out in the rain, an angry asian baby in a rain coat, a crazy range of sky colors, and a lot of cute dog photos. I’ll be lucky if even one of these photos make the Station North website but I’m pretty satisfied with the turnout all the same.
Other duties this week included compiling a list of arts workshops in Baltimore and taking pictures of murals in the surrounding area–for reference photos for an upcoming lighting project. I look forward to editing the photos, building the website, and for the rain to stop filling out all the road holes on North Avenue. Until next week!
In some of the last BITES sessions we’ve had, I have heard others mentioning that their experience this summer has led them to decide that they would like to stay in Baltimore after graduation. I am more than happy to say that I have felt the same way. The few times this summer that family members or chatty Uber drivers have asked me what I want to do with my degree from Hopkins, I have responded with “I’d like to either teach in a Baltimore City Public School or do Community Organizing”. Each time I have said this, a smile has spread across my face. Working with the youth at my placement has been the most rewarding aspect of my role there. Generally, I handle administrative tasks as well as the food service that comes along with Youth Works’ programs, however, whenever I get a chance to interact with the youth in a positive way, I do. I love feeling like they can trust me to tell me about their day and their friendships and their hopes and dreams (as cheesy as it may sound). I love hearing about the projects these youth are working on outside of the amazing work they do at Jubilee Arts. One student, for example, has been planning and filming for his cooking channel on YouTube which he just started doing. Jubilee recently posted about him on instagram saying that his dream was to one day have a cooking show on Netflix, and with his determination and charisma, I really think he can get there and further. I am so excited to see how the rest of the program comes to an end. This week is the mural celebrations. People will be taken on trolley tours to the different mural sites in Druid Heights. I am so proud of the youth who worked on them and excited to see them explain the concept and meaning behind their work to their family, friends, and fellow community members. It’s going to be a bittersweet week to see them go.
As I reflect on my two summers at 901 Arts, and the consistent chaos that is working with youth. There is really nothing as astonishing as the “rainy day”. See the “rainy day” is different from the normal day, because no one has the ability to go outside. Despite lightening warnings, protocols and dark clouds rumbling through the streets- the kiddos will still want to go outside to run around. In order to have bargaining chips for the ensuing debate on whether going outside during a mini hurricane is “safe” we always make sure to have a good rainy day plan filled with back up activities and games scheduled. This is something that Baltimore City and multiple venues in the area seem to not understand and plan for. Yes, I am this bitter about Toots and the Maytals not performing on Saturday that I am writing my blog about it. Their members are almost all in their 70’s!!!!! They will likely not be going on tour after this. Baltimore having reggae icons perform for Artscape and then a Reggae festival the following day was HUGE for me! Reggae is way of life deeply connected by music. Telling dreams of equality and stories of oppression to a beat that everyone can bop too. But there was no rainy day plan. Fans tried to organize a backup venue in dismay- as the group that originated the term “reggae” and mobilized a culture of love got washed away from Baltimore. On my worst of days and on my best of days I listen to reggae, because there is not a moment where being uplifted by the beat doesn’t make me smile. Reggae led me to Baltimore Ceasefire. Reggae led me to urban gardening. Reggae led me to black environmentalism. Whether it be from the lyrics, the performers or the Rasta community Reggae is the soundtrack to a movement of peace. If the city wants to have peace, then the city should learn to plan better. Because whether it be after school camp, a free concert, or larger things like sewage overflow (which is currently flowing literal tons of shit into Jones Falls as I type) having back up plans to avoid the ensuing bad vibes that permeate from things not going as expected is usually the best option.
This past week I’ve started to feel the time crunch for getting all of our projects done before the end of my placement. I feel like I’m on one of those home improvement shows, and we’re all racing till the reveal to get everything finished. Maybe I only feel that way since the special order for the clay house planters was approved this week. We started working on them the week before, not really sure whether or not the customer still wanted them. But now she does, and we are trying to complete 120 row home shaped planters by the end of the program. I’ve really liked this project, because I feel like it is a happy medium between creating something that is marketable, and allowing participants in the program to express themselves creatively. This project has a lot more flexibility than mosaics, and clay is a lot more of a forgiving medium that tiny little pieces of glass and mosaic glue.
Also, this special order is something that I have been given a lot more responsibility over. This is a material I’ve worked with in the past, so I was tasked with the job of teaching initial clay skills and how to put things together. My main goal is to avoid the houses falling apart and to make sure they don’t blow up in the kiln. I’m happy that I got the chance to transfer the skills I learned while being taught art to others, and for the implied trust of such a job. The only that worries me now, is that if any of the clay houses explode while firing, it will be my fault and my responsibility to fix things. However, I am still excited to see how they turn out, and I to see what everyone comes up with for their own miniature home.Tags: 2018, 901 Arts, Art with a Heart, CIIP, CIIP 2018, Jubilee Arts, Open Works, Station North Arts and Entertainment District, Week 6