10X10 Exhibit installation detail.

Each year, as we begin discussions for the theme for the next 10X10 Exhibit, a lot of thought goes into the current social, political and arts landscape of Baltimore City so that our exhibits are relevant and create bridges with the local arts scene. We go forward giving teachers the freedom to approach every theme in a way that best suits their students and we leave it to them to decide how they address the topics in their classrooms with the hopes that it will create the opportunity for constructive discourse on important issues happening around the city.

Because of this process, the 10X10 Exhibit has always served as a unique survey of students’ artistic talents and, oftentimes, provides a sobering look into the complexity of young minds. This was proven in last year’s theme inspired by the efforts of Baltimore Ceasefire 365 where over 250 works of art gave an eye-opening examination on how students saw themselves and their city outside mainstream media’s portrayal of gun violence and social justice issues. Intertwined with images of loss and grievances were hopeful calls to action and stunning portraits of neighborhoods and city life.

In its fourth iteration, 10X10 Exhibit’s theme for 2020, spurred by current events that propelled Baltimore City into headlines and causing many citizens to come to its defense, became Identity.

Top Row (left to right): Najwa Arifa, Kayden Scott-Wells, Janel Cotten
Middle Row: Yvonne Cowan, Lillian Green, Keyla Fuentes-Chicas,
Bottom Row: Sofie Jones, London Connolly, Laura Lynn Emberson

On display of the first floor of the Motor House, an arts hub nestled within the Station North Arts District that houses artists studios and several small arts non-profits, you will find 240 works of art from students and teachers representing 21 Baltimore City public schools. One of the only exhibits exclusively for Baltimore City public school teachers and students Pre-K to 12th grade, the 10X10 Exhibit brings in hundreds of visitors who come to show support for these young artists. Every piece that is submitted during the open call is displayed which provided a valuable challenge for our four-member curatorial team of high school students from Baltimore Design School, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, and Renaissance Academy, who lent their own artistic talents, voices, and creative thinking skills towards examining the works and forming a collective curatorial statement.

This year, you can expect to see a broad spectrum of viewpoints and identities represented that are sure to evoke a variety of emotions and responses from audience members. From smiling self portraits to powerful illustrations of oneself descrunstructed into words, phrases, or symbols, this exhibit seeks to celebrate the willingness of the artist to share a piece of themselves with the world within the confines of a 10 inch by 10 inch canvas. The grid-like style of exhibition conjures up the image of window panes inviting the viewer to pause for a moment and consider the lives behind each piece.

Ja’Daja Christian, Untitled, mixed media, Augusta Fells Institute of Visual Art

So, no, the 10X10 Exhibit is not just another student art show. This is a stage that celebrates both the good with the bad and everything in-between because identity is formed by so many aspects of personal experience and environment specific to each individual. Each work is a podium where the artist has intentionally stepped up to share how they grapple with or embrace their identity, give voice to or uplift those they identify with, or seek out solidarity among a community of creatives who call Baltimore City home.

The exhibit is open to the public and will be on display until February 29th at Motor House, 120 W. North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21201. To attend our Coffee & Conversation: A Closer Look at the 10X10 Exhibit reception, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/10×10-exhibit-coffee-and-conversation-tickets-86411985575