Profile Spotlight: Jeff Brunell

What’s your name and organization?Jeff Burell Image
My name is Jeff Brunell, and I work on a project called The Revolution Within at the Center for Grace-Full Living.

How old are you?
I am 31 and 3/4 years old.

Which neighborhood do you live in and which neighborhood do you work in?
I live in Charles Village and work in McElderry Park.

Describe your art or organization?
The CGL is a community wellness center. TRW is about engaging in healing practices (from storytelling to martial arts; acupuncture to quilting) as a way of working through trauma on both individual and community levels. The idea is that working on this kind of urgent but difficult material helps free up our energy – which we can then apply to social action, arts, and all the good stuff.

I also write songs and poems in fits and starts.

What are you currently working on?
TRW just hosted its first session, and we’re going to be having these events every Tuesday evening for the rest of 2014. They’re happening here, at 2424 McElderry St (21205), between 6:30-8pm. I’m trying to balance my time between coordinating our facilitators, building a case for what we’re doing through the literature on trauma informed community work, doing outreach and connecting with other folks working on similar issues, hunting for grant support, and preparing for a kickoff workshop that we’re hosting at the end of this month.

What social justice cause(s) are you particularly drawn to, and why?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I’m particularly interested in any effort that expands access and participation for people whose hours and mojo are too often chewed up with the day-to-day of survival against an inhumane economic backdrop – stuff like stable housing, free and relevant education, community ownership in development processes, minimizing barriers to health care, etc. I hope that TRW – with free one-on-one counseling and specialized holistic courses – can contribute in a small way to a larger movement toward actualization and power building for both individuals and communities. Why – because I’ve watched myself and people I love put real passions and justice work on the backburner in the pursuit of survival and too often, distraction. So I get excited about anything that brings more voices into the conversation – not just politicians, academics, and foundation folks – particularly voices which might have lost faith in themselves or the use in trying somewhere along the way.

Who or what inspires you?
For starters – time in nature, peoples’ movements, music, and my excellent cat. Enough sleep, good food, and walking a lot help, too.

What’s the best part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
There’s enthusiasm and a wide-openness – it feels like being part of a very large and organic thing which hasn’t yet been co-opted and sold back to its participants.

What’s the worst part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
Part-time jobs on the weekends help make ends meet, but mean missing some great happenings.

What sort of and/or social justice projects would you love to take on?
When I have a little bit more bandwidth – by November, maybe? – I want to get more involved in housing issues. Connecting people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore to some of the city’s extensive vacant housing seems obvious and urgent.

Who would you like to collaborate on a project with?
So many people in so many arenas – for now, I’m focusing on all the different ways that TRW is linking up with other projects and amazing folks.

What’s one social justice organization that people need to know about, and why?
I think that YES (Youth Empowered Society) is really awesome. I was homeless on and off as a teenager and wish that there’d been such a place at that time – but living in the suburbs, I might not have heard about it even had it existed. So I hope that the word has gotten out to young people who are in a similar position now.

What type of ways do you see artists addressing social justice issues in Baltimore?
Countless ways – from the subtle and coded to the really representational and documentarian. And not just in artwork but, perhaps more importantly, in personal practices and values – communities that are engaged in the trial and error process of modeling a more just society on a small scale, day-to-day, in hundreds of different ways throughout the city.

How do you think artists or arts organizations are changing Baltimore?
Again – countless ways, and some have their downsides. But I think that Baltimore’s becoming known as a center of energy and artistic freedom, and that’s both great and true. And I think that there’s a reverberating effect there – that tone and mood become infectious, and more and more people claim the space for art in their own lives.

Stop by the Center for Grace-Full Living (2424 McElderry St.) to participate in The Revolution Within:
Upcoming Schedule
9/16 – Physical Fitness and Nutrition
9/-23  Martial Arts for Mind, Body, and Soul

Profile Spotlight: The Quilt Story Exchange

Quilt Exchange Image

The Baltimore Art + Justice Project recently sat down with  artists, Ashton Page and Claire Fredrick to talk about their new exciting project,  The Quilt Story Exchange.  The Quilt Story Exchange will bring together groups of people, specifically groups of women, to create quilts that represent stories of trauma, hope, survival, and joy.

Not only does the project give individuals a platform to share their stories, but the project promotes the independence of those who are or once were victims of trauma, by providing an in-depth experience with quilting and fiber art in emotionally supportive environments.  As of now, The Quilt Story Exchange will work with four different non-profits in a year long timespan. Each different group of people will be given the opportunity to make one large scale quilt that represents their collective story of survival. The fifth quilt, our traveling quilt, will move between all four organizations, as well as our studio, and be added to. This collective quilt will become a narrative for many different survivors of trauma, which in turn will be displayed to the larger Baltimore community to offer spaces of healing and sharing.

The Quilt Story Exchange is already at 11% of their funding goal of $10,000 but are currently fundraising for the rest. Donate, follow them on Facebook, and check out their profile on BA+ JP!

What’s your name and organization?
Ashton Page & Claire Fredrick and we are the creators of the Quilt Story Exchange.

How old are you? 
We are both 24.

Which neighborhood do you live in and which neighborhood do you work in? 
Ashton: I live in Harwood.
Claire: I live in Fells Point.
Both of us work in many different neighborhoods in the City. We work in Remington, McElderry Park, Sandtown-Winchester and Upton, as well as East Baltimore Midway.

Describe your art or organization?
We are both fiber artists seeking to use our craft as a conduit for strengthening communities. We use quilting as a method of storytelling, as well as a process for healing from trauma.

What social justice cause(s) are you particularly drawn to, and why?
Both of us came together with the intention of working with survivors of trauma on multiple levels. Here in Baltimore, this usually means folks coming out of recovery, specifically addiction, sexual slavery, street violence, living in poverty or coping from homicide.  We wanted to address these issues that are ramped  in Baltimore City and effect virtually all neighborhoods here. Both of us have had our fair share of traumatic experiences. We have lost friends and family. We both mutually agreed that to combat our grief and despair, we immersed ourself in the arts as a therapeutic process. Because it has been such a successful outlet for the both of us individually, we wanted to focus on healing arts as part of our collaborative project, in hopes of giving aid and relief to those effected by Baltimore crime and poverty.

Who or what inspires you?
Dr. Joan Gaither and The Advocacy Project’s Advocacy Quilts. Joan uses quilting to share African American lineages of people and places, and has cultivated a large following of people excited about her work. To watch her run a workshop is truly a gift. In our journey to create the Quilt Story Exchange Project, Joan has acted as a mentor and teacher to us in this process. She has truly mastered the art of community quilting and we hold her in the highest regards. As for the Advocacy Quilts, they give groups of women in impoverished parts of the world the ability to share their story which is so often lost. We have found inspiration to do similar work, but instead of going out of the country, we want to stay in our own community and share the outlet that we have found works for us.

What’s the best part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
The best part is that there is a great spirit of celebrating the arts here through local and grassroots levels. Whatever project you want to do to, there is someone out there to support you, and if you keep going in the same general direction more doors keep opening up.

What’s the worst part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
There is very limited funding, because there are so many people with so many ideas. It doesn’t help either that the population is saturated with artists. This saturation allows for a wonderful dialogue about artistic practices, but means there are more people wanting the same funds that you want.

Who would you like to collaborate on a project with?
Womb Works. Definitely. There is just such a good vibe that comes from that group of people. It would be interesting to see if they would be interested in quilting a backdrop or something for a performance.

What’s one social justice organization that people need to know about, and why?
Mother Made is definitely an inspiration. It is a true co-op based in Baltimore. We look forward to some day being able to use this method of social enterprise with our textiles as well. It would be amazing if the works we produce in this next year through The Quilt Story Exchange could also give the people we work with some financial gain.

What type of ways do you see artists addressing social justice issues in Baltimore?
As two students coming out of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s MFA in Community Arts Program, we have both been exposed to a multitude of ways of     introducing social justice topics into the arts /community arts realm. It seems that the best      way to  begin a dialogue with the community about social justice topics that are effecting neighborhoods is to integrate arts and creativity as ways of promoting safe spaces and   open, honest discussion.

How do you think artists or arts organizations are changing Baltimore?
From our perspective, it seems that organizations are becoming more understanding of the dire need for art enrichment and integration in their programming. Artists on the other hand are operating on multiple levels; as curators, authors, activists, organizers and businesses. In Baltimore, it seems that the dynamic of “artist” is shifting into a more complicated and multidimensional personality. You have to be more than just one thing–a painter or a sculptor–to be successful. Artists are becoming more community oriented are are operating on a amore local level, it seems we are all becoming more aware of social justice issues around us and rethinking how that shapes us and how it effects our work.

To learn more, visit them on the BA+JP. And remember to donate to their awesome work!

The Revolution Within

The Center for Grace-Full Living is launching The Revolution Within with four introductory sessions taking place in September. A holistic wellness program, The Revolution Within offers both individualized counseling sessions and a series of interactive community events on a range of topics. These events, on the themes of spiritual practice, physical wellness, arts, and relaxation, aim to address the health of the whole person. The full program, set to begin in early October, will run for 8 weeks, on Tuesday nights from 6:30-8pm at the Center for Grace-Full Living. Child care will be provided. The Revolution Within is open to all members of the McElderry Park community free of charge. People interested in committing to the full 8 weeks, as well as those who can only make it to the one-time introductory events, are invited to attend on the evenings listed below. The sessions are informal and held onsite at the Center, 2424 McElderry Street. These will focus on the topics listed below, but also introduce the range of offerings to be included in the full course: acupuncture, quilting, visual arts, yoga, and more. Please contact Jeff Brunell for more information at jeff.revolutionwithin@gmail.com or stop by the Center for Grace-Full Living (2424 McElderry St.)
Introductory Course Schedule:
 
9/2-    Writing and Storytelling
9/9-    Mindfulness and Meditation
9/16 – Physical Fitness and Nutrition
9/-23  Martial Arts for Mind, Body, and Soul

New Data Hub

At Baltimore Art+Justice, we’re always looking for new ways for members to use our map, so  we’re excited to announce a new part of our website: the Datahub, a resource for researchers and anyone interested in the ever-changing cityscape of Baltimore.

Want to see how crime statistics and the establishment of arts districts are related? Want to explore how Baltimore artists and organizations can contribute to the fight to make food more healthy, sustainable, and accesible? Want to find a vacant lot to do a project in? Investigate these questions and more at the Data Hub: A Place to Play with BA+JP.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 10.33.04 AM

If you think of a cool new way to use these or other resources, let us know at baltimoreartplusjustice@gmail.com.

Baltimore Art+Justice Project’s Artscape Spotlight

Artscape logo

 Artscape starts today, and BA+JP is very excited! Artists, performers, and tourists from all over the country and world will be in Baltimore. Deciding where to go can be a bit overwhelming, so here are a few possibilities for those who want to focus their Artscape visit on Baltimore locals.

North Avenue Food and Ale Fair

Friday (12 am- 7pm) @ Station North 

Showcasing local farmers, bakers and brewers during Artscape weekend in the Station North arts District’s North side.

Case[werks] Showroom and Gallery

Reception Friday (5-8 pm) @ 1501 St Paul Street

Memory: captured moments
featuring artists Rick Cleaver, Jim Condron, Robert Creamer, Kurt Godwin, Katie Pumphrey, Nancy Scheinman and Ronnie Spiewak.
   


Station North by Foot: Art, Music & Architecture at Artscape

Thursday-Saturday (6pm) @ 1 W North Avenue

Join Baltimore Heritage for “Station North by Foot:” a free one-hour tour through a rich history of art, music and architecture within blocks of Artscape.

The Alternative Art Fair

Thursday – Sunday @ Charles Street Garage, 1714 Charles Street

The Alternative Art Fair features displays from more than 15 non-profit exhibition spaces, pop-up venues, artist run galleries and artist collectives.  All of the participants embody a DIY approach in the way they curate, organize and promote their shows.  The work on display will range from traditional painting and sculpture to temporary installations built specifically for the fair and new media works.

 

Organization Spotlight: Y-LLEAD

 

y.llead

After teaching Science/Math for 10 years, and while teaching art part-time, Melissa Moore started the product design studio, Nikkuu. During her time developing the design studio and volunteering with various community youth programs in Baltimore City, she was envisioning Y-LLEAD. Upon receiving an Open Society Institute Fellowship in 2013, programming for Y-LLEAD began in early 2014. The foundations of her work are centered around the intersections between design, alternative learning spaces, healing justice, spirituality, anti-racism, community collaboration, and new solidarity economies.

What is your name and organization?


My name is Melissa Moore, and I work at Y-LLEAD: Youth Learning Lab of Education and Applied Design

 How old are you?

38

Which neighborhood do you live in and which neighborhood do you work in?

I live in Ednor/Waverly. I work in many neighborhoods. The work is not “job” work, but relationship building, connecting work, necessity work that goes way beyond “job” work. Since the various community work that I do is so inter-connected and based on engaging in what is needed at the time (no matter what neighborhood I’m in), I see my work as very mobile, organic, and dynamic. I’m constantly addressing social justice in my life all day/everyday. It is not separate from my day-to-day life. Working in the community takes me to various neighborhoods in the city, which is really important to me. As Y-LLEAD evolves, our work is actually meant to be even more collaborative with other youth organizations around town. Our studio is currently located in Greenmount West and we are being hosted by the Baltimore Design School.

Describe your art or organization?

Y-llead is a youth led design program that uses architecture, product and graphic design as a tool for social justice and self-actualization. We see these as amazing tools for providing intensive learning opportunities and knowledge exchange. We collaborate with young people in the process of harnessing their creative capital to design and develop community projects. There is also a social enterprise segment of our work that allows young people to combine social justice work with entrepreneurship while working on products that fill a need in the community. Currently, Y-LLEAD designers are doing work around healthy food access and community play-space development. We see grassroots development of community green spaces as not only a way to re-activate neighborhoods but a way to also create health and healing opportunities within communities and for potential small entrepreneurship opportunities to unfold. Community collaboration, relationship building, self-actualization, and sustainable life-long learning for youth are at the heart of Y-LLEAD’s mission.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, we are in our summer design intensive. Y-LLEAD designers have been delving into the question of how social justice connects with their own lived experience and communities. They are designing and developing a multi-use community green space in the Greenmount West neighborhood. They have been connecting with the neighborhood, having door-to-door community conversations asking multiple generations of neighbors (from 3 year olds, to other teenagers, to elders) what they envision for their neighborhood. They have also been collaborating with a landscape architect, and soon with urban farmers. The Y-LLEAD designers are really excited about the work that they are doing and have talked about how empowered they feel in seeing this work slowly come to fruition. None of them have really been given the space to talk about social justice and certainly not about how they as youth can be the leaders of this work and how they might use their passion for design to bring about important change in their communities.

Who or what inspires you?


What inspires me most are the people in my neighborhood and community (in Baltimore and beyond) who are the most marginalized and dehumanized but have still managed to do their best to navigate life with what has been given to them, including my own family. Their suffering inspires me to help develop and uplift new futures. It is the reason I am on the planet at this time. In my experiences in the US, these are African-American people first and foremost. To have been stolen from ancestral land, turned into property, have this in our DNA for hundreds of years on land that was also stolen in colonization and then thrown into a system that was designed and developed on the backs of black dehumanization (and still is) and to exist in the variety of ways that we are with the brilliance and resilience with which we do it, is incredibly inspiring. It is painful and beautiful. There are other things that inspire me too. A range of people, places, and things here in Baltimore, the US, and beyond inspire me. My Buddhist teachers sharing ancient wisdom, my African ancestral wisdom traditions that I’m still uncovering, my indigenous Cherokee ancestral wisdom traditions that I’m uncovering all inspire me.

What’s the best part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?


Being an artist/designer in Baltimore allows me access to things that make it much easier to develop and share my work. One example is access to a well-developed tool library (Station North Tool Library), free Fabrication Lab access and accessible living costs (although I know for some people this is not the case and because of gentrification, less access to affordable housing is available in the city). Also having the space as a designer/artist to experiment and start stuff without there being thousands of other people trying to do the same thing or competing for the same access or resources.

To learn more visit: yllead.org

Social Justice Organizer’s Happy Hour


Red Emma’s knows that you never get a chance to hang out with many of your favorite people in Baltimore because everyone is too busy organizing to overthrow capitalism, confront imperialism, destroy racism, and smash patriarchy, heterosexism, and cisnormativity. So they’re starting a monthly social justice organizers’ happy hour at Red Emma’s—spread the word to your colleagues and comrades, and come by for an early evening of conversation and catching up.

When: Thursday July 5th, 5:00 pm.

Where: Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W North Avenue.

How: $1 sodas, and $1 off beer and wine.

Who: Red Emma’s and anyone who works for social justice in Baltimore

About Red Emma’s: Red Emma’s is a worker owned radical bookstore and cafe.
For More Information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ or
https://redemmas.org

Happy Fourth of July from everyone at BA+JP!

Charm City Kitty Club Presents: Queerassic Park on June 27th & 28th

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Queers have been around since the dawn of time. CCKC invites you to discover our rich history and rising stars. Come visit Queerassic Park! It has a fantastic lineup. Nedra Johnson is an NYC based singer/songwriter multi-instrumentalist who has performed all over the world. Kiki Allure breaks out of her shell to investigate the world of Burlesque! Venus Thrash is a beloved DC poet that has been published in several anthologies. Little Rib is a godsend multimedia delight featuring projections by Dulcey Rene. And Hyster Majesty will swoop in and astonish you with a performance unlike any other!

Join the intrepid kitties as they explore Queerrasic Park!

When: Friday June 27th and 28th

Doors/Cocktails: 7PM

Show starts at 8PM!

Where: Baltimore Theatre Project @ 45 West Preston St.

How: $15 Regular, $10 for Students

Who: Burlesque artists, musicians, poets and more!

Artists: Nedra Johnson, Kiki Allure, Venus Thrash, Little Rib and Hyster Myster

About Charm City Kitty Club: The Charm City Kitty Club is a collectively run cabaret designed to foster, showcase and celebrate creative expression among lesbian, dyke, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and genderqueer individuals as well as their allies. CCKC’s goal is to serve as a catalyst for connection and a forum for discussion through the arts.

For More Information, visit: http://charmcitykittyclub.org

Profile Spotlight: Allison Yasukawa

We recently sat down with Allison Yasukawa, whose show Land Grab runs through July 4th at The Chicken Box on 1 W North Avenue. Allison is a multidisciplinary visual artist and educator. She teaches in the Foundation department at MICA, and is a co-founder of the Baltimore-based alternative art space, Lease Agreement.

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The opening of Land Grab was attended by an ice-cream truck selling cones topped with chocolate cockroaches (still delicious!)

What is your name?

Allison Yasukawa

 How old are you?

35

Which neighborhood do you live in and which neighborhood do you work in?

I live in Waverly, and I work in the Bolton Hill/Station North Area at MICA.

Describe your art or organization.

I have an interdisciplinary practice that primarily includes sculpture, performance, sound, video, and drawing. Often, the content that I’m concerned with is based in some way on social interactions, particularly those in which imbalances of power are the assumed norm. I play up these imbalances and identify them through the work in an effort to draw attention to the flimsy nature of social divisions.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, I have a solo exhibition up at the Station North Chicken box titled Land Grab. The work in this showfocuses on three distinct but interrelated contexts—tourism, the service industry, and the American Dream—and on different ways that people lay claim to a position of status within these contexts. Much of this work includes pieces that I commissioned from other people to bring ideas of labor and subjectivity into the exhibition in a very real way.

What social justice cause(s) are you particularly drawn to, and why?

I am especially invested in immigrant and refugee resettlement and empowerment. These populations face many challenges in the U.S. Not only have they have left their home countries, family members, and support networks, but they are negotiating a new cultural environment, frequently in a new language, and often with few resources at their disposal.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m really inspired by 
the people that I come into contact with through my practice. Because if the interactive component of my work, I often find myself having out-of-the-ordinary encounters with people. As I said, for the work in Land Grab, there were a lot of individuals that had a hand—directly or indirectly—in the making of the work. Making the initial approach, talking through an idea with someone I am interested in working with, and then serving as a witness to her/his own creative act is a really thrilling experience that energizes my practice.

What’s the best part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?


I moved to Baltimore in 2012, so it’s still a very new place for me. It’s always exciting to get to know a place by making work in it, so I think that the newness of my experience here is my favorite part right now.

I also co-run an alternative exhibition space here with my husband, Adam Farcus, called Lease Agreement. This is something that the two of us have wanted to do for a while now, and being in Baltimore has given us the opportunity to make it happen. It’s been great to engage with the art community here and also stay in active contact with makers outside of Baltimore.

Who would you like to collaborate on a project with?

Dimitri Reeves—he’s the guy who does the Michael Jackson impersonation street performances. Outstanding.

What’s one social justice organization that people need to know about, and why?
 

One of the organizations I’ve been most active in so far here is the Refugee Youth Project (RYP). RYP is an organization that works with refugee resettlement in the Baltimore area. They do amazing and creative work, and they are always looking for more people to become involved.

I’m also constantly impressed by the work of the Druid Heights Community Development Association. They are located in the Druid Heights neighborhood, and are involved in many important community-based initiatives.

To learn more about Allison visit allisonyasukawa.com.

Photo by Adam Farcus

901 Arts Presents: The KIDULT Variety Show – May 30th, 2014

Join 901 Arts for its first ever KIDULT Variety Show.  KIDULT is an inter-generational variety show co-created through a month long residency at 901 Arts by adult artists, musicians, and performers collaborating with youth artists and musicians to create skits, raps, songs, dances, costumes, props, and the set. Get ready to see and hear what’s happening in the enchanted forest and be prepared for sing alongs! Followed by a dance party. Food and Beverages (alcoholic and non) will be available.

When: Friday, May 30th 2014

Doors/ Reception/ Listening Stations/ Costume Photo Booth: 7PM

Show starts at 8PM! and goes till 9:30PM (with one intermission)

Dance Party 9:30-11PM

Where: 2640 Space at 2640 Saint Paul Street Baltimore, MD 21218

How: $7 – $20 sliding scale suggested donation at the door. Kids 5 and under free!

Who: performances by 901 Arts Youth and Crossroads Middle School Students in collaboration with Baltimore based adult artists and musicians!

Kid Artist: 901 Arts youth and Crossroads Middle School students

Adult Artists: Person Ablach, Mary Alessi, Benjamin Alexander, Regina Armenta, Stephanie Barber, Max Bent, Zachary Christensen, Theresa Columbus, Alex D’Agostino, Ami Dang, Marquisha Davis, Pilar Diaz, Robert Dietrich, Vanessa Ferguson, Maggie Fitzpatrick, Sarah Frank, Lee Heinemann, Wayne Johnson, Jessica Keyes, John Alex Lind, Julie Little, Sophia Mak, Lisa Murphy-Mitchell, Cassidy Regan, Alexa Richardson, Ann Russell, Aaron Smith, Kali Stull, Kayla Thomas, Sarah Tooley, Emily Uchytil, Dan Zink

 

About 901 Arts: 901 Arts is a grassroots community art center that provides free year round art and music programs to the children and teens of the Better Waverly neighborhood in Baltimore City. 901 Arts serves over 100 youth a year with the help of over 100 volunteers. Founded in 2006 by parent and adult community members as a community-strengthening tool, 901 Arts is a project of the Better Waverly Community Organization.

For More Information, contact Sarah Tooley: (410) 366-2252  www.901Arts.org , SarahTooley@901Arts.org

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