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MICA Launches Award Program to Support Graduate Alumni Work in Baltimore

Urbanite magazine, Baltimore Business Journal, WYPR and more sing the praises of promising graduate alumni work

Posted 05.11.12 by MICA Communications

Photo of students in Ms. Bovill's 6th grade class at Green Street Academy pausing for 5 minutes of BMore Fit time.

BALTIMORE - MICA establishes a two-year, $100,000 pilot awards program, LAB (Launch Artists in Baltimore), that will offer five $10,000 awards each year to new MICA graduate alumni pursuing initiatives in Baltimore. The awards support MICA's long-term commitment to help make Baltimore a cultural hub unique to the world by training scores of aggressive, world-class art and design visionaries who use the city as a canvas for their creative vision.

Announced at today's Graduate Commencement, the inaugural five LAB award-winning projects are: Print/Collect by Jennifer Coster '12 (Rinehart School of Sculpture); Wetwalks and Waterwalls by Ben Peterson '12 (Social Design); Rebuilding Connections by Chelsea Ragan '12 (Mount Royal School of Art) and Adam Void '12 (Mount Royal School of Art); Sight Unseen by Margaret Rorison '12 (Photographic & Electronic Media); and The BMore Fit Teacher Toolkit by Becky Slogeris '12 (Social Design).

"The LAB program is an exciting initiative in Baltimore aimed at ensuring that the talented young artists and designers at MICA choose to stay in the city and energize its cultural distinctiveness," said Michael Franco, vice president for advancement.

The LAB award, supported by MICA trustee Steve Boesel, is intended to assist with projects, events, studios, public art installations and small business development costs during the transitional year after graduation.

"I was motivated to make this gift for two reasons: MICA graduate students are an incredibly talented and special group of artists and designers; and secondly, the awards provide an incentive to keep those artistic talents in Baltimore, enriching the city," Boesel said. "MICA realizes now, more than ever, talent alone will not necessarily lead to career success, but talent combined with an entrepreneurial, business-oriented focus multiples those chances."

About the LAB projects:
• With Print/Collect, fine artist Jennifer Coster plans to publish a quarterly screen print collection of works by Baltimore artists. Fashioned similarly to a zine, the product will feature three artists' hand-screened prints in each rendition. Print/Collect aims to help emerging artists promote themselves through a new platform to showcase work, while offering buyers accessible and affordable artwork, and showcasing the contemporary Baltimore art scene.

• With the proposed projects, Wetwalks and Waterwalls, social designer Ben Peterson hopes he can constructively and creatively address water conservation in East Baltimore, where MICA PLACE is located. In collaboration with Blue Water Baltimore and local grade schools and after school programs, this initiative aims to use art and design to educate the public and foster stewardship around the Harris Creek Watershed system. In Waterwalls, mural paintings of water and the water system will be installed at watershed sites used for educational programing. Through Wetwalks, a map and an educational walking tour will demonstrate the system's key conservation locations by visually connecting the watershed and Waterwalls sites. Peterson, who has been working in East Baltimore during his M.A. in Social Design program, believes making the water path visible can help residents understand how our actions impact the water and how the Chesapeake Bay's health affects our own.

• Socially-conscious artists Chelsea Ragan and Adam Void propose to use the LAB award for Rebuilding Connections, a mural project along Howard Street that will connect MICA's Graduate Studio Center with the Baltimore Museum of Art. The plan proposes that six emerging MICA artists and six nationally-recognized street artists from Brooklyn's Mighty Tanaka gallery will collaboratively create six murals. The line of murals will transform formerly blank walls owned by auto shops, motels, rock clubs and townhomes into publicly accessible works of art. The project aims to aesthetically enhance a corridor going through social and economic development while connecting New York and Baltimore artists, opening the door for further artistic growth in the city.

• With a background in curating music and film events in Baltimore, Margaret Rorison has teamed up with local cinema enthusiasts Lorenzo Gattorna and Kate Ewald for her LAB project. Sight Unseen proposes to be a roaming monthly series focused on showcasing experimental film, video and live cinematic performances. This series aims to introduce alternative modes of the time-based media to a diverse range of Baltimore communities, while welcoming recognized pioneers and emerging innovators to participate in events showcasing contemporary and historical time-based art.

• Influenced by her experiences in the M.A. in Social Design program and Baltimore City Public School system, Becky Slogeris' design work focuses on holistic curriculums. She has created The BMore Fit Teacher Toolkit in partnership with BMoreFit, a local nonprofit dedicated to physical education, and Green Street Academy, a public middle-high school in West Baltimore. The BMore Fit Teacher Toolkit is a deck of exercise cards designed to help students focus in the classroom and improve their academic performance. With the LAB award, Slogeris hopes to provide teacher toolkits for Teach for America corps members in Baltimore and offer professional development training on the toolkit.

MICA has had a significant presence in Baltimore for more than 185 years with its faculty, students and alumni contributing to the quality and diversity of cultural, social and economic development of the city. During fiscal year 2010, approximately 4,700 MICA graduates (about 41 percent of all alumni) lived in Maryland, according to an economic impact study by New York City-based economic research and analysis firm Appleseed.

This academic year, MICA graduates more than 200 students from its fine art, design, education, business and community arts programs culminating in the Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Professional Studies or Post-Baccalaureate Certificate. MICA's growth in graduate programming is marked by today's Graduate Commencement; previously, the College celebrated undergraduate and graduate graduations in one ceremony.

LAB is the latest of MICA's investments in graduate education and the city of Baltimore. Notably, MICA opened MICA PLACE (Programs Linking Art, Culture and Education) in East Baltimore in 2010 and is currently renovating Graduate Studio Center in Station North Arts & Entertainment District.

Image caption: Example from The BMore Fit Teacher Toolkit by Becky Slogeris '12 (Social Design); photo of students in Ms. Bovill's 6th grade class at Green Street Academy pausing for 5 minutes of BMore Fit time.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

In the Media

  • READ: Urbanite magazine says the program will "encourage the best and brightest to stay in Baltimore after graduation."
  • READ: Baltimore Business Journal writes about the "promising projects."

Coverage also appeared in BmoreArt, WYPR Radio and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance newsletter.