As a part of a year-long series of events celebrating its tenth year anniversary, Arts Every Day will be hosting a 10×10 Portrait Show featuring over two hundred student and teacher artworks from fourteen Baltimore City Public Schools. The exhibition will be on view at the Motor House from January 6-31, 2017 with a reception on January 18, 2017.
Inspired by local artist Stephen Towns’ portraits, students and teachers from Baltimore City Schools were invited to create 10×10 inch portraits from found objects and materials that celebrate themes of identity, family heritage and culture. Mr. Towns curated the resulting portraits exhibited in the show.
In the process of making work for the show, many participating art teachers found that their students were able to express the shared experiences of grief, loss, and violence.
“The show prompted emotional responses from students because many of us have lost loved ones, and many of our family traditions are based on honoring those that have died. Students worked on making portraits after sharing their stories and we felt that the project brought us closer together because of the impact our stories had on one another.” – Laura Lynn Emberson, Roland Park Elementary Middle School
One student made a piece about the role of religion and Christianity being an important pillar in the African American community. Tyler Lewis says, “My portrait doesn’t represent just one person, it represents my family, African American men and women…it shows Christ which is all African Americans had when they were slaves. The tree part represents how black people are growing strong together as years go by. ‘Bac 2 Blac’ means black people are rising so they can earn or get what we’ve always deserved.”
Mecca German portrayed being both Jamaican and American. “My mother is American and my father is Jamaican. To represent this, Imade a Jamaican flag in the background. Then I put myself in the middle and colored it in like the American flag. Finally, I put red, white, and blue letters spelling out ‘Jamerican’: a mixture of the words Jamaican and American.”
Stephen Towns’ work resonated with students and teachers alike because of his intricate way of connecting family heritage, magical realism, and a violent American history into impactful vibrant pieces. When Arts Every Day approached Stephen about the project, he was ecstatic about the opportunity to work with city students and teachers to elevate their art work. “Baltimore City is full of so many talented youth. It’s exciting to see what they are creating when given the opportunity to tell their stories. I’m happy that Arts Every day has provided a platform to highlight them.”
After it’s run at the Motor House, the exhibition will be displayed at Arts Every Day’s tenth anniversary celebration at the Baltimore Design School on March 10-11, 2017. The exhibition reception will be on Wednesday, January 18th from 5-7 PM at the Motor House on 120 W. North Ave. The reception will feature performances by local spoken word artists from Dewmore Baltimore with remarks from Mr. Towns, participating teachers, and students. It is a free event and you can RSVP at 10x10portraitshow.eventbrite.com.
Participating Schools & Art Teachers
Creative City Public Charter School, Morag Bradford
Federal Hill Elementary School, Chandra Morgan
Hamilton Elementary Middle School, Elena Johnston
Henderson-Hopkins, Ernest Shaw
John Ruhrah Elementary Middle School, Kerry Somerville
Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, Sia Kyriakakos
Northwood Elementary School, Gloria Sleeman
New Hope Academy, Julia Taylor
Patterson Park High School, Nancy Holter & Alisha Marchewka
Roland Park Elementary Middle School, Clare Gizzard & Laura Lynn Emberson
Western High School, Jennifer Becker