Archive | February 2013

Birth Matters: Fundraiser for Maryland Families for Safe Birth

Often conflicting, complicated, and emotional, birth is a topic that stirs a wide range of responses in people. When mentioned amongst different people adjectives vary from powerful, transformative, exciting, and beautiful to grotesque, painful, and scary.

The variety of experiences and stories that individuals have surrounding birth are what the Maryland Families for Safe Birth (MFSB), an organization that is working toward legalizing Certified Professional Midwives in Maryland, is looking to be shared at their upcoming fundraiser. They are asking for individuals to share and perform their birth stories, the good, bad, beautiful, difficult, and everything in between, at the upcoming event.

MFSB, is hoping the performances people share of loss, birth multiples, cesareans, medicated births, midwife assisted births, natural births, unassisted births, and any other story will help bring up the topic of birth and make it clear that as Carmen Calvo of MFSB states “birth matters.”

Calvo, who has a background in art, felt the idea of using storytelling performances would involve families in a powerful that “could serve as a venue for healing.” The event is a fundraiser to benefit the MSFB, but the organization also hopes to raise awareness of issues regarding birth and midwives in the state in the process. Calvo explained that MSFB has been working on passing legislation to legalize Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) in Maryland, “At this time, if a woman chooses to have an out-of-hospital birth experience, she is forced to go underground. By licensing CPMs and having a board of midwives holding CPMs accountable, women will have access to evidence-based care and be able to give birth how and where they choose. This movement is to give MD women and their families safe options outside the hospital setting. With c-section rates at an all time high, women are seeking a more natural, personal care provider and are asking for midwives. Women in MD deserve a choice.”

MFSB is looking for individuals (and families) to share their birthing stories. They are calling musicians, poets, performance and visual artists, storytellers, and anyone without performance experience who would like to share their story to come to participate in the event. Individuals who would like to share their story but may not want to perform it themselves are also welcome to contact Calvo. There will also be space at the event for children to create their art in a craft area.

For more information on the event or how you can participate/contribute please contact Carmen Calvo at .

MSFB Birth Storytelling Fundraiser

Thursday 21, 7pm @ 2640 (2640 st. Paul st.)

What is the Intent?

by Brie Hagen and John Massad

On December 13, 2012, the BA+JP held a community dialogue, Merging Art and Activism. The event included an exercise where attendees discussed four Baltimore art/activism projects: Baltimore Storm Drain Project, Schools Not Jails, Baltimore Graffiti Warehouse, and Baltimore LOVE Project. Throughout the discussion, those in attendance were grappling with the concept of the intersection between art and activism. Participants unpacked what constitutes art as “activism.” This distinction began to be defined by evaluating whether or not a piece should be understood within the context of active engagement with communities to foster change.

The Schools Not Jails example was discussed as low on the dimension of “art” and quite high along the dimension of “activism,” while many felt that the Baltimore Graffiti Warehouse was the reverse.  The Baltimore Storm Drain Project, as well as the Baltimore LOVE Project were viewed largely by participants as somewhere in the middle, though it is vitally important to note that there was not consensus on either.  It was clear in the conversation that not all art in the public sphere is inherently considered “activism.”

An underlying theme emerged in the conversation about what people looked for in defining art and activism. What was not discussed, but was woven through each of the conversations, and lies at the intersection, is intentionality.  What is the intention of the person who produced each project and the artists associated with it?  Is it intended to motivate change?  Is it intended to speak truth to power?  Can we really know, and does it even matter?

So, as we are considering the intersection of art and social justice activism, we are grappling with definitions of what constitutes “art” and “activism,” with an overlay of what the intention of the artist/producer really is.  And what about a work of art that is not in any way “intended” by the artist to produce change and yet is so provocative that it redefines discourse about both?

What do you think?

We want to hear what you have to say on the topic of intentionality, art and activism in Baltimore.

If you are interested in submitting a blog post on the topic, please email your post by this Friday Feb. 8th to to be featured next Monday Feb. 11th.

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