Six students recieve France-Merrick Community Fellowships to begin projects in Baltimore
Posted 10.23.13 by MICA Communications
Five juniors and one senior have received the France-Merrick Community Art and Service Fellowships: Isabella Gonzalez '14 (interdisciplinary sculpture), Karyn Lao '15 (fiber), Luis Arboleda '15 (painting), Kimberly Meistrell '15 (graphic design), Amelia Hutchison '15 (general fine arts) and Estelle Kline '15 (photography).
Through individual projects, each student will use their fellowship to begin their own projects that will be used as a way to develop social change in the community as well as in the lives of Baltimore citizens.
MICA's senior recipient, Isabella Gonzalez '14, is a second-year France-Merrick Fellow and will focus this year's project around the east Baltimore neighborhood Washington Hill.
Gonzalez will be working with substance abuse addicts in recovery with each group divided by their sex. Art classes will be held at the Powell Recovery Center and will focus on expressing individual identity.
"I hope to accomplish a better connection with a large population of marginalized peoples on the east side of Baltimore," said Gonzalez. "Through working with outpatient adults in a recovery treatment for substance abuse and mental health, I can create long-lasting relationships and healthy positive recovery that lasts beyond a one-month or 28-day in-patient recovery program."
Through sex, gender, race, and class, students will learn to reflect and feel comfortable making new forms of art. The project will culminate in a round table discussion/exhibition with all recovering addict students, the Powell Recovery Center, MICA personnel and the general public in May 2014.
Karyn Lao '15, a fiber major with a concentration in Sustainability and Social Practice, is interested in the growing field of smart textiles and exploring how humans interact with the environment. Lao has many roles in the MICA community, including being a student ambassador, orientation leader, and diversity mentor. This year she will begin co-directing MICA's a cappella group, MICAppella.
For her project, College Access Art Clubs, Lao will work collaboratively with Mercedes Hightower, a member of the Maryland-DC Campus Compact AmericaCorps VISTA program, to create College Access Art Clubs in Baltimore City public high schools. Hightower is here at MICA to work with the Community Arts and Service program to bring Baltimore Arts to surrounding high schools. The clubs will encourage students to create art, learn about careers in the art field, and serve the community through art making.
"My proposal is to engage high school students and give them access to information about different careers (not just in art), to also create art in connection to personal reflection/identity and to explore Baltimore by visiting Museums or having the students to volunteer in places around the area," said Lao. "I want students to have fun, but also learn that there are many different aspects of the art field that they can be interested in."
Through her fellowship, Lao hopes to explore new ways of learning by fostering each student's creativity and, ultimately, use art as a tool to help students discover their potential.
Luis Arboleda '15 is a painting major with an interest in landscapes and portraits filled with surreal power. As a MILE student at MICA, Arboleda has hosted programs recognizing international culture and diversity and has been involved with Community Art and Service as a community site leader.
His fellowship project, The Actions of Art, is a performance art and physical fitness project that will explore the physicality of artmaking with Baltimore city youth. Taking place at the Druid Hill Family Center Y, Arboleda's project combines elements of modern performance art with the post-modern "Let's Move!" initiative.
"‘The Actions of Art' is unique in bringing together these two seemingly incongruent subjects. In fact, they both share the idea of the body as a medium and its necessary care. Bringing the two ‘misfit' subjects makes sense then, and becomes absolutely appropriate," said Arboleda.
This year-long course will benefit students by turning established ideas of art and its process on its head and introducing more open-ended creative ways for students to express and explore.
"A collaborative spirit will be encouraged among students to chip away self-conscious inhibitions and replace them with a positive self-esteem and a more realistic self-perspective," said Arboleda.
Kimberly Meistrell '15 also received a fellowship this year. As a graphic design major with a focus in Sustainability and Social Practice, Meirstrell will be working with elementary and middle school students at Banner Neighborhoods to explore food sustainability as it relates to human health, the health of the environment and the health of the community.
"With this award I hope to establish an art program that encourages children to think about food and to give them the tools to make informed decisions about food sustainability" said Meistrell.
Through her project, Food for Thought, students will observe the growth and harvest of food, learn cooking practices, and become aware of how to reduce and reuse food waste. Meistrell will incorporate activities such as creating garden sketch books, all-natural dyes, and homemade reusable grocery bags.
"Personally, I hope to exercise my involvement in the community in a way that is important to me: I would like to share my thoughts on food and sustainability and create an open dialogue through artistic expression," said Meistrell. "The award has given me the means to connect with the community in a way that feels meaningful."
Amelia Hutchison '15, majoring in general fine arts, has started Baltimore Class of 2014 with her fellowship. This collaborative community arts initiative will target several of MICA's Community Art and Service publics including youth and seniors as well as members of the community dealing with addiction and mental health issues.
"Baltimore Class of 2014 will challenge students to explore that it means to live in, and contribute to a community," said Hutchison. "Whether this means their city, family or classroom, participants will gain an understanding of their own value as community members as well as their responsibilities in creating and sustaining a unified and healthy community."
As the culmination of Baltimore Class of 2014, Hutchison will host a gallery show that brings together the works of art that explore what it means to be a community.
In addition to the France-Merrick Fellowship, Hutchison is also the recipient of the Marc Levy Memorial Scholarship, Fanny B. Thalheimer Scholarship, Starr Foundation Scholarship, Baltimore Collegetown LeaderShape, Trustee Award and Academic Honors Scholarship.
Another junior awarded a fellowship is Estelle Kline '15, a recently declared photography major who has previously pursued concentrated coursework in painting, graphic design, and drawing. Kline highlights a multi-disciplinary approach to artmaking by creaking collaborative full-scale music videos with different community groups in Baltimore City through her project, Community Screens.
"Community Screens will function by giving a platform to voice other communities in Baltimore," said Kline.
For the project, Kline will work with The Arc Baltimore, an organization supporting more than 6,000 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and providing advocacy and high-quality, life-changing supports, to create a music video and host video-making workshops for the community.
"There are a lot of moving parts but I am very excited for what is to come this year," said Kline. "Receiving the grant was an enormously validating experience, but also signifies MICA's commitment to social engagement."
The culmination of her project will be a call for entries for music video and animation work to all of Baltimore, and a video screening celebration in late spring.
MICA's previous France-Merrick Fellows include Ju Hyun (Rachel) Park '13 (ceramics), Samantha Brodowski '14 (fiber), Lisa Deng '14 (art history, theory and criticism), Jessica Lewis '14 (animation) and Anda Brown '14 (interdisciplinary sculpture, humanistic studies).
The annual France-Merrick Fellowships provides financial support for MICA students engaged in community service through the College's Community Art and Service program in the Student Activities Office. Established in 1998 with funding from The Wallace Foundation, Community Art and Service involves students in community-based art projects in neighborhoods that are among the most economically and culturally challenged in Baltimore City. Past projects have covered a wide array of visual arts, including murals, collage, puppetry, fabric art, costumes, book making, digital art, video, animation, photography and photojournalism.
Image captions (top to bottom): Estelle Kline '15 (photography) working with ARC of Baltimore; Powell Recovery Center member working on art project