In spring 2021, UMBC student Joshua Gray received a Charlesmead award to fund a symposium for the Association of Black Artists (ABA) that would bring middle schoolers from Baltimore City Public Schools to UMBC. However, under pandemic conditions, the program had to pivot to being online. With the help of partner organizations, Elev8 Baltimore and Maryland Out of School Time (MOST), the program instead prepared 22 “Symposium in a bag” kits for participants, most of which were from City Neighbors Charter School. The program’s components were built from the insightful recommendation of Dean Moffitt to outline specific outcomes. All symposium sessions were hosted by ABA board members or a partner organization, and the program agenda included mural painting (images above of two students after the session), body percussion, music production, dance, creative writing, a Baltimore School for Arts student panel, and more. Thank you, Elev8 Baltimore and MOST for your collaboration; Professor Shaness Kemp for guidance through the planning process; Professors Carol Hess and Brian Jones for providing assistance from the Dance Department; Dr. Kathy O’Dell and Dean Moffit for opening this opportunity; and the ABA, for being so diligent throughout the cultivation of the symposium.
Since fall 2021, Daniel Pesca and Janice Jackson of the UMBC Department of Music joined forces with the Carter School of Music and Knabe Institute to offer after-school and summer music classes to youth in the Sandtown-Winchester community. Despite the challenges of pandemic conditions, ten students between the ages of 8-14 are receiving instruction in piano and choral music in a program that is scheduled to run for two academic years and two summers.
When possible, the K-8 students will visit the UMBC campus each semester to attend concerts, and their summer instruction will be funded in-part by UMBC’s Summer Enrichment Academy (SEA). UMBC students will also be incorporated as teaching interns during the second year.
“Treasures” is a recently funded project – led by Lee Boot, Director of the UMBC Imaging Research Center (IRC) – that aims to elevate community culture beginning at the level of the family. In September of 2020, twenty fifth-grade students of Matthew Henson Elementary School began working with their family elders to find family keepsakes and animate the stories around them.
Faculty, staff and students from the IRC are collaborating with teaching artist Ashley Milburn and community mentors, including Arch Social Community Network leaders. They are working with families to create digital versions of their artifacts and record family stories, all which will be assembled into an interactive living virtual monument that is accessible to all. The finished virtual sculpture will be projected on buildings and screened at both community and university venues. The goal of the project is for young people to experience the value of family legacy through art making and material culture.
The project team is currently navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to bring the project to fruition without compromise.
In Spring 2021, Gail Prensky of the Jüdische Kulturbund Project collaborated with Michele Wolff of the Shriver Center to conduct the Kultur Stories Program – an 8-week partnership of learning and collaboration among young people from the United States, Sweden and South Sudan. Learning pods of approximately 10 students from each country connected virtually to learn about each other, reflect on the impact of the pandemic and oppression caused by it, and share stories to increase their understanding of a global community and develop creative and social-emotional skills needed for future leadership. Both high school (20) and middle school (10) students directly benefitted from learning skills in digital arts and storytelling in order to express pride in their community through art-making. This project shined a light on the talent and abilities of these youth, encouraging them to build caring relationships with themselves and youth around the world.
Click here to view the entire “VOICE” gallery of artwork!
In Spring of 2021, Sandra Abbott collaborated with Julia DiBussolo and Betty Gonzales of Arts Every Day to introduce students to the field of museum practice, including curation, exhibition narratives, and design. Using the virtual exhibition Southern Rites as a catalyst, this project allowed K-8 students to explore the purpose and role of art in society. Student artists submitted work that spoke to how the Southern Rites exhibition themes are salient in their day-to-day experiences. Numerous high school students curated the student exhibition. Students explored how art creates spaces for discourse and criticism within our current state, past, and the social dynamics we are striving to build.
In January 2020, the “Theatre Arts and Communicating Science” arts integration project collaborated with Arbutus Middle School (AMS) to use theatre skills to creatively engage students in learning and communicating about science in active, compelling ways. A project team was assembled that included UMBC faculty, Theatre department undergraduate majors, STEM graduate students, and AMS science teachers. During weekend workshops the team learned skills in playwriting and improvisation from guest artists, and voice/speech from Theatre faculty Lynn Watson.
During the spring semester following the training, the project team took those skills into AMS science classrooms, guiding 100+ middle school students to imaginatively express science concepts physically and verbally. Theatre skills were integrated into the classrooms in a number of ways. For example, to help students gain deeper understanding of the plight of endangered species, a playwriting exercise was used to prompt narrative writing about threatened animals. In learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion, the UMBC students assisted the middle school students in creating and performing improvisational scenarios to demonstrate the real-world effects of the laws.
In November 2019 – in an effort led by Beth Saunders, Curator & Head of Special Collections – the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery began a collaborative project with museum educator Willa Banks to create an arts education curriculum for K-8 Baltimore City youth emphasizing hands-on learning and engagement with original artworks through the gallery’s exhibition program and in the holdings of UMBC’s Special Collections.
During the spring semester, 90 students from Liberty Elementary and Frederick Elementary schools visited the gallery for an interactive tour of the exhibition Antonio McAfee: Through the Layers, Pt. 2 led by the gallery curators. Students enjoyed putting on 3D glasses to view McAfee’s work, saw rare nineteenth-century photographs from UMBC’s Special Collections that the artist manipulates in his digital photographs, and created collage portraits to take home with them. They shared what they learned over snacks, reflecting on what photographs can tell us about history and how portraits reveal (and conceal) personal identity.
Due to COVID-19, the final two class visits scheduled for March and April were canceled, but the curriculum has since been adapted to an online format for Academic Year 2020-2021.
In August 2019, the UMBC Shriver Center Peaceworker Fellows program began a collaborative project with Wide Angle Youth Media, a local non-profit serving Baltimore City youth, to provide quality media arts education and academic and workforce readiness workshops for 80 Title I Baltimore City students.
Throughout the course of the academic year, Wide Angle delivered two series of 8-week media education courses in public libraries for middle school students. The students created stop motion short films, learned photography skills, as well as videography and video editing. The students also visited the UMBC campus for a day spent with art faculty, staff, and students where they learned about the potency and power of media. After a tour of the art facilities on campus, students ate lunch at the dining hall where they brainstormed ways to pursue careers in digital multimedia.
Additionally, during Wide Angle Youth Media’s summer programming, Mediaworks students were able to learn about food access in Baltimore City, partnering with two local coffee shops who had lost business due to COVID-19. Students received products from Vagrant Coffee on their front porch and were able to safely take product photography. They were guided through online lessons and one-on-one phone calls.
Though the final series of classes and the second and third UMBC campus visits were canceled due to COVID-19, the project was a great success, engaging 80 students.
In Spring 2019, UMBC music education students, the UMBC wind ensemble, Baltimore Symphony Orchkids students and teachers, Diana Lawrence, and Daniel Bernard Roumain (aka DBR) came together to explore gun violence in America.
BSO OrchKids students and teachers came to campus and worked with UMBC music education students and teaching artist Diana Lawrence to create an original work in response to gun violence. The students co-composed the piece over two sessions. In addition to their collaborative experience, OrchKids students also had the opportunity to tour the campus and get a feel for college life. Part of the goal was for OrchKids students to have a positive experience on campus and to gain more insight into the college experience—something we hope they will consider pursuing in the future.
The collaboration culminated in a multi-disciplinary performance titled “Thoughts and Prayers.” BSO OrchKids students not only shared their original work alongside UMBC music education students, but also performed alongside UMBC wind ensemble students under the direction of Brian Kaufman, Diana Lawrence, and Daniel Bernard Roumain. The concert was followed by a community conversation facilitated by UMBC’s Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, in which UMBC students, faculty and staff, OrchKids students and families, and area community members engaged in discussion about gun violence in response to the performance. Perhaps the most meaningful part of the event was hearing from OrchKids students what they learned and what the event meant to them.
In May 2019, Alan Kreizenbeck of the Theatre Department partnered with WombWorks to produce two plays by African American playwrights. The Charlesmead gift funded stipends for high school students from Frederick Douglass and ConneXions, who trained as technical theatre interns during the productions. The gift also allowed for 120 high school students to view two matinee performances, meet the playwright, and discuss the significance of the plays.
In February 2019, 75 eighth graders and 5 teachers from Lakeland Elementary/Middle came to the UMBC campus for an arts field trip. Due to bureaucratic processes, the students had not been able to join their fellow classmates on their original field trip, but the Charlesmead gift gave them the chance to attend this alternative field trip. Led by graduate student Rachel Wallace, the students all had the chance to: view an art show in our Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC), create their own collaborative sculptures, explore the technology in the Imaging Research Center (IRC), tour the UMBC campus, eat lunch in the UMBC dining hall, and play basketball in the gym.
Charlotte Keniston, Associate Director of the Shriver Peaceworker Program, will collaborate with Art Teacher Grace Harrison of Belmont Elementary School to manage a new art club of 10 students. Whitney Frazier of Arts Every Day, with support from UMBC service-learning students, will work 1:2 (adult: student) with students to dream up and then design a mural project for the school building.
Cheryl North of the UMBC Department of Education will collaborate with Dana Carr of the Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center (LTYC) to identify 8th-grade students with leadership potential and a strong interest in the arts to mentor and train them to become teachers. As a final project, participants will teach their lessons to as many as 20 K-5 BCPSS students. All students involved will get the chance to learn from each other and explore future opportunities for themselves.
Sandra Abbott of the CADVC is collaborating with curriculum writers and three Baltimore City middle school teachers to develop arts lesson plans that incorporate the Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park (located on UMBC’s campus), adhere to state educational standards, and fit appropriately within the school year curriculum. Field trips to UMBC and the Sculpture Park that were scheduled for spring 2020 are postponed due to the pandemic until further notice.