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MICA Names Two Seniors as France-Merrick Community Arts Partnerships Fellows for 2009-10

Cait Byrnes ’10 to Organize 2010 CAPfest; Sarah Wren ’10 to Work With Teenage Girls on Empowerment Issues

Posted 06.08.09 by MICA Media Relations

BALTIMORE--MICA awards rising seniors Cait Byrnes of Toms River, N.J., and Sarah Wren of Perry, Ohio, France-Merrick Community Arts Partnerships Fellowships to create and implement new fine arts programs in Baltimore City neighborhoods over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year.

The annual fellowships recognize exemplary work, commitment, and dedication to Baltimore communities through previous experience with MICA's Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) program and new project proposals. The fellows will receive $3,500 through an endowment provided by the France-Merrick Foundation, which believes community service should be an essential part of collegiate life.

In most cases, the artists develop comprehensive lesson plans that support predetermined educational goals and outcomes; articulate a strategy that encourages participating individuals to try out, practice, and apply new skills, knowledge, and attitudes to real, art-based problems; and manage the on-site activities and responsibilities that relate to the project.

Cait Byrnes '10, who is pursuing a degree in general fine arts (BFA) with a concentration in photography and a minor in art history, will organize the 2010 CAPfest celebration. She will add a parade to the community arts festival and will organize workshops for MICA students and the general public to fabricate masks, costumes, and instruments for the event.

Byrnes has been a key creator of CAPfest, which has taken place since spring 2008 and includes an exhibition of CAP site and CAP intern artwork.

"I think the parade will help bring CAPfest to the level I had originally envisioned it: using the artistic process to create interaction between MICA and its surrounding communities as well as generate awareness of the CAP program and the power of community art," Byrnes said

Byrnes has taught a senior art club at Memorial apartments, assisted in organizing the campus event CAP Appreciation Day, as well as led lantern and float building workshops in coordination with Nana Projects, Inc., for the Great Halloween Lantern Parade in Patterson Park.

Sarah Wren '10, who is majoring in general fine arts (BFA), will work with teenage girls to focus on issues of empowerment and self-worth. She will organize workshops with guest speakers and performers as well as teach fiber skills. The girls will construct "identity" or "power" suits that celebrate the mind, body, and soul, which will be featured in a fashion show celebration.

"For me, the art aspect of community arts is really just a vehicle to establish meaningful relationships and connections," Wren said. "My project might include the occasional splash of magenta or dusting of glitter, but at its heart it serves as genuine positive self-esteem reinforcement and the development of a ‘can do' attitude."

Wren has participated in the CAP program since her first semester of freshmen year. She has worked in a variety of Baltimore neighborhoods and with people of all ages, particularly children, by completing internships at Better Waverly Community Arts Center, Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School, Follow your Dreams, Inc., Good Shepherd Center, and School 33 Art Center.

One of last year's France-Merrick recipients, Caroline Van Sicklin '10, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., demonstrates the successful completion of a fellowship project through her partnership with Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital.

Van Sicklin, who is pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography, a master of arts degree in teaching, as well as a minor in art history, completes her 2008-2009 fellowship this summer. She has worked with the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital's staff, patients, and families to glaze ceramic tiles for a mural that will be installed this month in the hospital's healing garden.

"The project's objective was to make the healing garden's wall more colorful and beautiful, and more importantly, to help the children make an impact on the hospital, the way it has made an impact on them," Van Sicklin said.

The hospital plans to host the mural opening in early July, and Van Sicklin will offer postcards of the completed mural to the participants and community.

Van Sicklin's previous volunteering efforts include teaching a first-grade art class at Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School and an after-school art class for 5- to 8-year-olds at School 33 Art Center.

The annual France-Merrick Community Arts Partnerships Fellowships provide financial support for MICA students engaged in community service through the College's Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) program. Established in 1998 with funding from The Wallace Foundation, CAP involves students in community-based art projects in neighborhoods that are among the most economically and culturally challenged in Baltimore City. CAP 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.

For more information or to arrange an interview with one of the France-Merrick Community Arts Partnerships Fellows, call 410.225.2300.

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.