Mural Project Helps Beautiful Corner Of West Baltimore
Stacy M. Brown | 8/17/2018, 6 a.m.
Bon Secours Family Care Center has a new fun wall thanks to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) graduates Whitney Frazier, her partner Crystal Dunn, and other volunteers.
The facility, which plans to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019, was treated to a colorful mural that stands out along the corner of Payson and Baltimore streets in West Baltimore.
Frazier, an interdisciplinary artist, educator, arts administrator and activist who lives in the city, says she enlisted the help of Michael Rosenband, who helps organize community projects on behalf of Bon Secours.
“The Bon Secours mural design was inspired by the universal and ephemeral image of a sunrise— celebrating our interconnectedness,” said Frazier, who since relocating to Baltimore in 2002 has developed her community arts practice in neighborhoods throughout the city. “The goal of the mural project was to beautify the brutalist, concrete wall that previously greeted the local residents each morning as they step out of their doors.”
Bon Secours officials say they were seeking an artist and mural design that could engage a group of volunteers from Grace Lutheran Church in the process of painting. Frazier said all turned out as planned.
“But, this was a very tricky wall because of its deep corrugated shape, so the design needed to be flexible and adaptable. My mural designs are not ‘paint by number,’ which allows for some intuitive playfulness and interpretation on the wall while honoring the overall deliverables,” Frazier said. “Sometimes this approach can make volunteers or assistant painters a bit uncomfortable because they would like to be guided with more exactness but I believe that it allows for a richer overall outcome that isn’t contrived or stale.”
All of the painters, including Frazier and Dunn; and organizers, and directors are local artists who enjoy a personal investment in beautifying Baltimore neighborhoods. Each put their “passion and their own sweat into making it look nice,” Frazier said.
“This was the first mural project that I was not on site for the entirety of the painting process. My painting partner, Crystal Dunn, and two assistant artists, Lauren Gilson and Marian Simms, facilitated the 15 to 20 volunteers for three days and then I came in to paint the final layers and logo,” Frazier said. “It was challenging to let go of directly overseeing the painting process but I really enjoyed putting the final touches on the project and seeing my design come to fruition. I had a very talented and dedicated team.”
Whether she is creating murals, videos, performances or paintings, Frazier says she believes that through a collaborative process, art has the ability to create social justice and strengthen communities.
“My mural painting practice is rapidly growing and evolving into a sustainable portion of my overall artistic practice. Crystal Dunn and I are currently designing murals for the Bon Secours urban farm at Fayette and Fulton Avenue, and we will continue to seek opportunities to hire local artists of color to co-design and execute culturally relevant murals in Baltimore neighborhoods and beyond,” said Frazier, who also teaches a freshman foundation studio course at MICA, and social justice programs for youth in the city and county.
She does it all from a unique perspective. “As a white artist, mother, educator and long term resident of Baltimore city with an MFA in Community Arts and a BFA in painting from MICA,” Frazier said. “I acknowledge my privilege and I am grateful for the numerous community partners, Baltimore residents and colleagues that have invited me into their neighborhoods and homes to hear their stories and work towards a more just and equitable city for everyone.
“I deeply love the work that I do in Baltimore and I have always felt welcomed into all of the communities that I have worked with over the past 15 years.”