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My Fellowship with Arts Every Day, Strengthening Personal Connections Through Art

by Precious Blake

My work with Arts Every Day has been an immersive and exciting experience. My time here has taught me just how much work happens behind the scenes to ensure that art experiences are introduced to as many students as possible. Arts Every Day does this by making arts education and cultural experiences an integral part of classroom instruction for all students in Baltimore City Public Schools. This mission is carried out through their financial support of schools to go on field trips, hire artist-teachers for workshops, curate gallery shows, and provide professional development training for teachers and arts integration coaches. As they close their tenth year, I am helping Arts Every Day craft their story and brand through a series of tenth anniversary events.

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Photo Credit: Kariyma – Pictured: Devin Allen & his students from Windsor Hills E/MS

The first tenth anniversary event was a photography exhibition at the Motor House. The exhibit displayed photographs from a month-long collaboration between photographer and activist Devin Allen and students from Arts Every Day’s partner school Windsor Hills Elementary Middle School. During this collaboration, students learned photography techniques and were encouraged to discover and define their own artistic process and perspective. Digital cameras were donated to the library where students could sign them out to photograph in and around their neighborhood. Arts Every Day helped coordinate this collaboration by supplying other materials, support, and logistical help when needed.

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Photo Credit: Kariyma Murphy

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Photo Credit: Kariyma Murphy

I helped with marketing our exhibition at the Motor House by writing a press release, reaching out to media outlets, and securing coverage for the event. I also took the lead on social media and online marketing. When the night finally came, it was truly exciting to see Devin and his students share a special bond, showing appreciation for their influences on each other. It was a full house, over 100 people came to the event to see the work and hear from the students. In addition, all the students sold prints of their work and will receive all of the profits they made.

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Photo Credit: Kariyma Murphy – Pictures L to R: Partnership Coordinator Sarah Coleman, Devin Allen, Executive Director Julia Di Bussulo, School Program Manager Tammy Oppel, & UALP Fellow Precious Blake

Between projects, my ongoing initiative is to help coordinate a symposium hosted by Arts Every Day in March 2017 that will celebrates the past, present, and future of arts education in Baltimore City Public Schools. The event will both honor those who have contributed to advancing arts education in Baltimore City, while also looking ahead on how we can move forward in creating equitable access to the arts in school settings. The symposium will work to establish Arts Every Day as a practitioner and thought convener around arts education in Baltimore city.

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Photo Credit: Kamaria Cummingham

Lastly, the most recent event I worked on was Arts Every Day’s annual student art showcase at the Walters Art Museum in April. We folded this event into our anniversary events because it has always been an event of reflection and celebration, and this was the first time teachers displayed their work alongside their students. The exhibition featured over 100 works of art created by Baltimore City Public School students in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grades from across the city. I also worked on marketing for this event, designing print and online materials.

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Photo Credit: Kamaria Cummingham

This annual exhibit showcased the year-round work Arts Every Day does to support arts integration in the classroom. Every piece of work showed how teachers integrated visual arts, music, dance, theater, and media across grade levels and subject matter. This event also had a much different audience with mostly students and their family members attending. But just as was for the Devin Allen collaboration, Arts Every Day had a hand in helping cultivate the teacher-student bond through the arts. Unique Robinson did a poetry collaboration with Patterson High School, and during the reception had dedicated her poetry reading to her students. You could see and hear her students gasp in happy incredulation, snapping their fingers and clapping during her reading. Right after, the students swarmed her with hugs and smiles.

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Kamaria Cummingham

Connections like these happen countless times when murals, sculptures, artist residencies, or field trips are funded by Arts Every Day. As they conclude their 10th year, Arts Every Day wants to uplift and celebrate their role in supporting teachers, administrators, and artists so students can have the arts integrated into their daily learning. I hope to continue working with organizations and initiatives like these, as I have seen the great work that happens when stakeholders within arts advancement and education are connected and empowered. After this role I hope to continue creating and curating opportunities for underrepresented people and artists to convene and collaborate.

PBlakePrecious Blake is a senior at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she currently majors in Illustration, with a concentration in Printmaking. She has completed internships with Baltimore arts organizations such as Art With A Heart and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. In 2015, she was a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipient and went to Lisbon, Portugal to expand her skills in visual journalism and reportage. Ms. Blake wants to create equitable access to arts and cultural experiences and support underrepresented creatives.

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