26 June 2009

Summer site chosen!

I will be teaching art three times a week at this location.

Banner is in a great little neighborhood just North of Highlandtown. This neighborhood is located in East Baltimore on the other side of Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

Classes start next Monday! Yippee!!

We present for our Fall and Spring sites on July 9th . . . Stay tuned!!

RIP MJ . . .

The Michael Jackson I knew was my hero. He was my foray into pop music. The beginning of my ability to become enamored with someone in music. The end-all-be-all to my obsession with MTV.

In grade school, pictures of Miguel and his brothers graced every inch of space on my bedroom walls. My dad taped an original copy of The Making of Thriller for us, on VHS. I still watch this video on occasion, and almost every Halloween. But when I was in 4th grade, my sister and I watched it nonstop.

When my father was out-of-town on business trips, my mom would invite her friends with kids over and we would put on Thriller and dance around on the tile floors with socks on--slip-sliding around--enabling us to do the moonwalk that much better. Moms and kids dancing!! This is such a vivid, fond memory for both my sister and me. It was the first thing Kerry recalled to me when I phoned her this morning.

Ah, don't even get me started on The Wiz!!

RIP MJ. Long live the moonwalk . . .

May your music transcend the bad times you faced.

Image courtesy of the New York Times.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Journal Entry #1 – “Juicy Definitions”
Monday: June 22nd, 2009

If I had to sum up today’s experience in one word, it would be: participation.

Led by the enthusiastic and infectious Kristina Berdan, our day was filled with a constant stream of participatory activity. Throughout the week, we are working in class with our high school interns—a group of highly motivated students from around Baltimore, who secure paying summer jobs through YouthWorks.

We began the day with an art-making experience, building a “symbolic accessory”. This piece was to tell our “story”. We would break into pairs to share our story, eventually presenting to the class our partner’s story.

As the day continued, we broke into several groups of 3 or 4 to dialogue about what community art means. Words appeared consistently in conversations; words like: energy, visionary, mentoring, connections, facilitate, trust, fun, diversity, gratifying, and empathy. Each group used a selection of words as a group-formed definition of community arts. Our group’s definition was: MENTORS USE ACTON PLANS TO FACILITATE CONNECTIONS IN COMMUNITY THROUGH ARTISTIC EXPRESSION, IDEAS, AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY.

To round out the day, we heard 3 artist presentations from MACA faculty: Fletcher Mackey, Cinder Hypki, and Paula Phillips. Collectively these presenters were powerful, passionate, inspiring, engaging, and committed to community.

One of our many goals as community artists is to be inspiring to the youth and adults we work with. Being inspiring is a big deal—there is a lot of power in inspiration. Or, maybe, it’s pressure. Or, maybe, it’s both: power and pressure.

Immediately I realized I was not in Austin anymore, and I felt the excitement of the challenge that lies ahead.

Journal Entry #2 – Elevator Speeches
Tuesday: June 23, 2009

Today started with an art-making activity where each group created a movie poster to advertise their summer art camp. My group created a poster about space, entitled Art Odyssey 2009. Each member of our group was featured as a caricature of themselves in some sort of space suit representing their artwork. Mine had jet-propelled cakes for feet!

After lunch, we problem-solved about possible discipline issues we might encounter with the youth at our summer sites, and how it might look to respond appropriately. It’s refreshing to know that we will have four trained mentors working at each site!

Elevator speeches started at 330pm. I have a proven history of public panic. So, the afternoon and evening became a blur of sweaty nervousness. Professor Ken Krafchek had each of us give our 2-minute presentation twice, while riding the elevator with 6 high school interns. Our final presentation was presented to a room full of excited summer site participants: interns, supervisors, MACA faculty, and Americorps representatives.


As I begin to realize my position as a community artist, my fears are laid to rest and my potential becomes evident. Can one person make a difference, with art? Absolutely. This evening our class had the pleasure of meeting with eight community organizations that emulate this theory.

Most of these organizations were very small, neighborhood entities. Some of them were completely volunteer-run, or started by parents who saw a need. All of these organizations had passion and heart: a real drive to see youth – furthermore, their community – succeed using art as a vessel or tool.

I cannot explain the surge of emotions that come to the surface as a community leader explains the effect art and art making has had on a young person in their organization. It’s over-whelming, encouraging, and the absolute reason I am in graduate school for community arts.

I hope to be an inspiration and guiding friend to the youth at my summer site. 3 more days until this transformative experience begins.

Journal Entry #3 – Reactions
Wednesday: June 24th, 2009

Hi All,

I posed a question at the end of today’s class...

I would like to share my answer to my own question!

Floating above the matching process, a process embedded in real time and space, I see 16 courageous souls stand tall and proud and claim to the imperfect, chaotic world that they possess a vision of a very special place of harmony, equity, creativity and love. I see these now emerging leaders step outside the comforts of communal norms in order to build a more perfect (if imperfect) world. I see real artists claiming their true destiny.

So, any reactions...?

-- Ken


Hi Ken,

Floating above the matching process, I see a variety of personalities and art makers wishing for a better world in which to live. Through collaboration, process, exchange, and dialogue, we will each partake on a new journey and experience. Together we will speed through 13 months full of potential, creativity, hope, and a little bit of crazy.


19 June 2009

School’s in session!!

School is 5 minutes away by car, a quick drive not on the highway and across a beautiful yellow bridge (shown here during the winter).

Classes started on Wednesday, June 17th, with an orientation of our summer structure and an introduction to my 16 classmates and 6 faculty.

Thursday started at 830am with a tour of 4 community sites in Baltimore, ending in a BBQ at 6pm. The sites we toured: Martha's Place/Jubilee Arts Center, Creative Alliance, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland, and The Stadium School Youthdreamers. 9 presentations were given on community organizations where we would serve out our internship in the Fall/Spring. Our placement and match day is July 9th.

Today we met community artist George Ciscle and had a school-wide MICA orientation. This weekend is our last weekend of rest . . .

My program is a 13 month intensive, roughly 2 years completed in one.

Here’s a brief synopsis of my year ahead, as provided by MICA:

Summer Session I Internship: students partner with a fellow Master of Arts in Community Arts (MACA) grad student and implement real community-based, arts programming for youth, 3 days a week for 5 weeks. Additionally, MACA students collaborate with peers, students, and community members to design and implement a celebratory public event on MICA’s campus mid-July.

August Reading Month: No classes. The expectation is to complete a significant amount of work including a combined visual and writing assignment encapsulating the summer’s work, and the reading of a number of books.

September Training Session: Mandated Americorps training, discussion of books from the previous month with guest lecturers and faculty and staff.

Community Art corps Residency: Beginning mid-September, students work 32 hours a week—paid—at a previously decided community arts residency, Fall and Spring. Students spend an additional 10 – 12 hours in the classroom, while also completing homework and studio assignments.

Documentation: MACA students design and implement an annual exhibition of work produced in collaboration with their host residency organizations; showcasing artwork, teaching portfolio and thesis.

Art making Courses and Thesis: Students are expected to skillfully manage their busy schedules and find time to make their own artwork, which is regularly presented throughout the year to colleagues and faculty.

Readings: MACA students read various essays, articles, and 15 – 20 assigned books.

Written Assignments: Clarity of thought is essential. Willingness and ability to communicate with others is imperative. Students complete at least three major writing assignments during the course of the year.

Self-evaluation & communication with others: MACA students articulate their own personal goals for learning even as these goals grow and evolve. Students are expected to proactively communicate on a regular basis with faculty, colleagues, and supervisors.

Community-building: Students must demonstrate an active interest in all matters related to community building, both in and out of the classroom.

17 June 2009

PART 2: Welcome to Bawlmer, hon!!

On June 11th, 2009 (my 35th birthday), I arrived in Baltimore, Maryland with my eldest cat Sam. Leaving behind two cats, my dog Charlotte, and my boyfriend Doug all for a worthy cause: I am getting my masters degree in Community Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

I am living in Hampden. (Baltimore is sectioned off by various neighborhoods.) Made popular by John Waters’ movies, the neighborhood Hampden is home to a variety of wonderful restaurants, coffee houses, and kitschy, funky shops. My apartment is in a row house, and walking distance from all of the establishments that Hampden has to offer plus grocery stores, gas stations, and a plethora of green spaces. Over the weekend, Doug and I were able to attend Hon Fest. And, I am right across the park from The Johns Hopkins University, which is quite fancy.

This is my first time renting a furnished apartment—and, a truly smart decision considering how much less of a headache moving was . . . I am lucky to have a washer and dryer right in the apartment. Parking is always challenging, but totally worth the hassle. (I prefer to be on foot, so I leave the car behind on most outings.)

Moving to Baltimore was not as expensive as I had previously thought it would be. Don’t misunderstand; it was still a lot of money. (Did I mention my apartment is between 500 and 600 square feet—youch!!) But, it seems reasonable, considering I am now living on the East coast and 30 minutes away from DC (4 hours from NYC, 2 hours from Philly).

Not including travel snacks and drinks, below is a breakdown of my upfront costs for moving to Baltimore.

Cost to get to and establish living quarters in Baltimore:

Budget Rental Truck w/website discount: $546.00

Gas (for two vehicles half way): $336.59

Maps to get around Baltimore: $16.11

Groceries, cleaning supplies, miscellaneous: $146.75

Books—so far—for school via Amazon, 3 total: $36.26

Amount to get into apartment + first month’s rent: $2340.00

Internet hook-up + first month’s bill: $90.00

Deposit to MICA: $450.00

TOTAL spent: $3961.71

Miles to Baltimore from Austin: 1580 miles

Number of states traveled through: 6

Number of hours to get there, with a brief stop in Nashville: 25 hours

04 June 2009

Charlotte, haircut revealed!

Before . . .

After . . .

Part I: Goodbye Austin!!

Last week in Austin!! Full of all kinds of excitement . . .

The week started off at the movies! Doug and I went to see Up. A beautiful film, wonderful love story--everyone should see it! Made me think of all sorts of things I will miss when I move . . . Some of which are pictured here . . .

People often ask me why I get up so early in the mornings. This is why. We live in a neighborhood surrounded by fields. So, it feels like we are the lucky ones to see the sun rise first . . . I will miss my morning time, here in Austin.

LinkThis is Tegue. His mother is a good friend of mine over at the College of Fine Arts. I was fortunate to babysit this little guy over the past few months. I got to watch him learn to walk and helped him to say profound things like, "book" and "all done". He's an absolute joy!

Pictured below are dear friends of mine at UT (see Tegue's mother on the left!!). All of them helped to keep me focused on graduate school. Ann M. helped to keep me employed in a variety of ways. Shane, my adviser and confidant, has known me for close to 15 years--which makes me feel super old! And, Ann P. showed up at just the right time to help steer me in the right direction!!

I can not thank them enough!! I miss them already!!

And, I sold ol' Gilmore. She will most likely be stripped for parts, but at least she is doing her part to recycle!! She was a great car over the past two years!! Volvos rock!!

Oliver turned three this week. Liam turns 2 in October--can you believe it? Where does the time go? Oh, my nephews!! Where would I be without them!! Behold the cuteness!!

LinkLinkAfter attempting to groom Charlotte myself and failing miserably, I decided to partake in some solitary activities. I made homemade tortillas and hummingbird feeder food. I also reignited my love for Chaka Khan.

Doug and I watched American Hardcore last night--which rocked my socks off--and, we are having old friends over to visit tonight. We will be ready to leave come this time tomorrow . . . Baltimore or bust!!

Onward and upward, I say!!

03 June 2009

The day I thought I could groom a dog . . .

I live a very DIY lifestyle. So, when asked if I needed to make an appointment with the groomers or do it myself, naturally I chose to do it myself . . .

Since I am leaving for Baltimore on Friday, I decided that grooming Charlotte myself would be a fabulous way to bond . . . I mean, all of the supplies are right in front of me, how hard could this be?

Charlotte was a great sport throughout the bathing process.

She was even a great sport throughout the hair-drying process.

It was only during the second full hour of solid hair-drying that we both sort of thought, WOW . . . This is kind of exhausting (not to mention, the whole bonding thing was completely lost) . . .

Note: when deciding to groom your own dog, look at your dog’s coat. Do not ignore that you have a thick-coated breed.

Then, the clippers came out . . .

After an hour of shaving Charlotte’s back, I calmly set down the clippers.

Charlotte and I were tired. Four hours after we arrived, it was time to throw in the towel.

I went to the counter and booked an appointment . . .

The newly trimmed Charlotte will be revealed soon--stay tuned!