BOPA Program Concludes With Youth-Led Mural Creations
Art @ Work is a Work of Art
8/23/2019, 6 a.m.
Sitting on a small stoop, Joanna Hollins reflected on the inspiration behind the artwork located just a few feet away on the façade of the DeWees Recreation Center.
“We went around the neighborhood and interviewed community members,” said Hollins, who is a sophomore at Towson State University. “They wanted to see something that signified youth, joy, happiness and unity. Our inspiration was derived from the Quilts of Gee’s Bend.
“We felt a quilt represented all of the things the community wanted. Quilts are also fun and colorful. We wanted to make our own quilt.”
The Quilts of Gee's Bend are quilts created by a group of women and their ancestors who live or have lived in the isolated African-American hamlet of Gee's Bend, Alabama along the Alabama River.
With the Quilts of Gee’s Bend as their guide, Hollins and a team that included professional artists and Baltimore City youth created the vibrant, colorful façade of the DeWees Recreation Center, located at 5501 Ivanhoe Road.
Hollins is a mural apprentice with Art @ Work 2019. Through the five-week mural artist apprentice program, professional artists and Baltimore City young adults created highly visible beautification projects in city neighborhoods. The program is open to Baltimore City youths enrolled in the YouthWorks program. Young people ages 14–21 are hired to work under lead teaching artists and artist interns to create beautification projects throughout their neighborhoods.
The 2019 program ended with youth-led mural tours and community celebrations featuring performances and refreshments on Friday, August 2, 2019 at both DeWees and Farring-Baybrook Recreation Center, located at 4501 Farring Court.
Art @ Work 2019 is produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) in partnership with YouthWorks, Greater Baybrook Alliance, and Loyola University Maryland’s York Road Initiative. Iandry Randriamandroso was among the 2019 lead artists.
“As an artist, I do art murals that are very simple,” said Iandry Randriamandroso, who was among 2019 lead artists. “My work is simple because I like to engage people in my work by looking at it, and participating in the painting process. The quilts of Gee’s Bend lend themselves to my way of thinking. They very simple, graphic and colorful.
“We wanted to produce a mural for the community that was beautiful, and that would make them happy. It appears that we accomplished our goal.”
Randriamandroso is a native of Madagascar. He earned a MA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA). He said he has worked with Art @ Work for four years.
“The kids in this community have a space to play, learn and be happy because they make friends here,” said Randriamandroso. “A lot of people came to celebrate with us from the community, along with family and friends of the youth who participated. The purpose of today’s event is to celebrate the completion of the mural.”
Kenneth C. Clemons, who program participants affectionately refer to as, “Mr. Kenny” is a four-year artist intern with the program.