BALTIMORE, MD — Find on Pennsylvania Avenue and Gold Street the newly completed “#MyAmerica” mural, on the Hardware Plus building, designed and finished as part of a workshop at the Imagining America conference in Baltimore last week.
“#MyAmerica depicts the reality of communities of color and other ethnic groups in America and how they are either accepted into the #FabricOfAmerica or #Neglected #UnderResourced & #OverPoliced!!!”
– Rameen Aminzadeh, #MyAmerica artist, filmmaker (via Facebook)
The mural and its accompanying workshop was organized by:
- Michael Scott, CEO, Equity Matters, Inc.
- Rameen Aminzadeh, artist-activist, filmmaker, Beats, Rhymes & Relief, Universal Zulu Nation
- Dominic Nell, artist-activist, photographer, filmmaker, Nellaware TV
- Tahira Chloe Mahdi, media personality, TMOTTGoGo, Ph.D. candidate, Equity Matters Fellow at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
The workshop, entitled “Applied Social Design 101: Color Palette of White, Black, Red(lining) and Gray (Freddie),” was designed for arts and humanities scholars and researchers to join artists and community members in thinking of ways to use art to discuss race in college classrooms. Workshop topics included Baltimore’s history of racially restrictive deed covenants, as well as the 52 Supreme Court cases in which individuals from China, Mexico, Japan, Syria, and other countries sued to become “white” under United States law. At the 3-D mural, signs that read “In #MyAmerica…” allowed people to add their own messages about the past, the present, or hope for the future. Body painting was also available to make people a living part of the mural.
Participants convened for the workshop on Thursday, October 1st at the historic Arch Social Club, a community partner to the project, and also the oldest known, continuously operating African American men’s club in the United States. The community partnership can draw attention to issues such as the Arch Social Club needing a safe parking lot nearby for its patrons, or the organizers’ intentions to raise funds to pay the other artists and people who helped make it possible.
The organizers created the project as one of twelve (12) site-specific workshops at Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. The conference was held in Baltimore from September 30th through October 3rd and was planned and facilitated by dozens of community partnerships, including arts and theatre organizations, Baltimore institutions, museums, performance spaces, and the three hosting campuses UMBC, Morgan State University, and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Approximately 400 people from universities, colleges, and communities around the country (with some international) were officially registered for the conference, and the site-specific workshops were open to the public.
Baltimore’s strong artistic leanings made for an impressive fit with the Imagining America conference. One conference shero was Morgan State’s Coordinator of Theatre Arts, Shirley Basfield Dunlap, who directed four performance experiences for the conference, including ¡Express Yourself! A Spoken Word & Drumming JAMM on Friday night at the Murphy Fine Arts Center’s Turpin-Lamb Theatre. Another conference highlight was the presentation of The Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Key of Excellence Award to Imagining America at a program hosted by “The Bassman” Marcellus Shepard of WEAA 88.9FM.
Imagining America is a consortium of universities and organizations, dedicated to advancing the public and civic purposes of humanities, art, and design. The many individuals and organizations that comprised Baltimore’s Imagining America planning team now begin the work of sustaining successful community partnerships. Next year’s Imagining America conference is scheduled for Milwaukee, a city in which at least 53% of the residents are ethnic minorities.
@nellaware: “In #MyAmerica, #BlackMoneyMatters because #EquityMatters, so as WE are #ImaginingAmerica with #AppliedSocialDesign, WE must #LeverageTheHustle by any #BeatsRhymesAndRelief necessary.” #NellzWorld
–Dominic Nell, #MyAmerica artist, photographer, filmmaker (via Facebook)