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Children at two local afterschool programs explored their own creativity with Joyce Scott.
"These kids didn't have much previous exposure to something like this...and they just soaked it up. What's important was not the final project, but the fact that they met and worked with the artist."
-Carol Reckling, Executive Director,
Child First Authority, Baltimore
During the run of Joyce J. Scott: Kickin' It with the Old Masters, fourth-grade students from Eutaw-Marshburn and Kelson Elementary Schools in Baltimore had the chance to see a real artist in action. "We talked about things I thought we couldn't talk about, and then we made pictures of it!" said one student.
The artist, of course, was none other than artist-singer-performer, Joyce Scott. Through a community-based partnership between the BMA, MICA and Baltimore's Child First Authority, Scott worked with youngsters during weekly after-school classes throughout April. Projects for the program were developed jointly by graduate-level students from MICA and members of the BMA Education Department who carefully reviewed Scott's work and then created activities for the children that relied on her media and technique. This included the creation of "Jar People," a visual representation of memories, as well as all manner of masks.
"One class was a group of girls," recalls Scott, "and they were wild -- fun wild. Our project was to make masks. I insisted that everyone had to do something different - no two masks could be alike. Then, I turned around to these two little girls -obviously friends -- and asked them what they were doing (their masks looked exactly alike). They said 'Siamese twins!' It was too shrewd...I just couldn't say no."
In another class, the creation of a mask quickly morphed into a Chinese dragon. All the masks were displayed in a parade during a weekend festival in the Baltimore neighborhood of Bolton Hill as well as in a parade at the BMA during a Thursday evening "Freestyle."
The students' "Jar People" were displayed in the Activity Center at the BMA during Scott's show -- a special area that offered visitors a venue to explore their own reactions to some of the sensitive themes raised in the main part of the exhibit.
"The opportunity for these kids to stand before their community and show their work has a very powerful impact," said Carol Reckling, Executive Director, Child First Authority.
Because budget cuts in Baltimore's public schools had meant the elimination of many art classes, Child First Authority had made a strategic partnership with the BMA and MICA a top priority. Says Reckling, "People think of art as 'dessert' in an educational curriculum, but I see it as 'meat and potatoes' because it opens so many doors for students...allowing them to think, to build, to dream."