Isaac Ewart: The Art of Storytelling

At 25, Isaac Ewart is among the younger artists in Light City 2017. But, he spares no effort to dive in and understand the community he works with.

A 2015 animation graduate from MICA, Ewart is this year’s Artist-in-Residence for Hampden under the festival’s Neighborhood Lights program. Since October 2016, he has been collaborating with various constituents in the neighborhood to put together his multimedia program, “The changing face of Hampden.”

“It is extremely important for me to understand and engage with Baltimore at both the grassroots and city level,” says the California native who has been a Baltimore resident for the last four years. His collaborators include the Hampden Community Council, artist Michael Metcalf, The Creative Labs, 5 and Dime Ale House, Art with a Heart and Good Shepherd United Methodist Church.

Passionate about storytelling, Ewart’s plan for Hampden is an immersive installation and sculpture series at the Ideal Art Space, located at 905 W. 36th St. and Roosevelt Park, at 1221 West 36th St.

“I aim to explore the radically changing identity of Hampden by integrating multigenerational community self-portraits with LED and projection mapped masks,” he explains. The installation will also feature soundscapes of Hampden’s Avenue.

On working with a topic as sensitive as identity, Ewart stresses the importance of good communication with Hampden residents, “I had to dig into Hampden’s history and really listen to understand how to tackle such a big and complex subject.” After numerous meetings and deep conversations with the community, he has come to realize that “despite the lengthy history of separatism the changing face is one of inclusion and acceptance.”

In that spirit, Ewart will conduct lessons on self-portraiture and stop-motion animation techniques. Participants will create stop-motion animations by painting on glass, which will be integrated into the 7- foot-tall installation and sculptures.

Ewart says that Light City has given artists like him a real platform to make a difference in Baltimore. As an emerging artist, he does not take for granted the amazing opportunity to be so intimately involved with the city at such a scale. “I work twice as hard to engage and make a difference. Hopefully my efforts will inspire and instill a sense of pride in the people of Hampden and beyond.”