RECENT NEWS + MEDIA
The Art of Activism opens at Maryland Hall
By Charlie Youngmann (Bay Weekly)
Maryland Hall reopens Friday for the first time since March to unveil something new: The Art of Activism, an exhibition of eight Maryland artists using their work to spark dialogue and change in the context of Black Lives Matter.
Artists have been using art to comment on societal issues including gender, race, politics, and religion for generations. The Art of Activism explores the ways in which current Maryland-based Black artists are using their work as a statement of activism.
Six vinyl banners were hung outside Maryland Hall in June, each displaying a single word in the phrase Black Lives Matter. For this exhibit, each of those banners was then assigned to a selected artist, says Katie Redmiles, Maryland Hall’s Digital Marketing and Communications Specialist. The artists were asked to use their banners as a canvas for whatever media they found appropriate to convey their own message inspired by their word.
The finished works anchor the new exhibit and additional pieces from the contributing artists will be placed throughout Maryland Hall for a socially distant gallery experience, Redmiles said.
A seventh banner will be displayed at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis although they currently remain closed due to the pandemic, Redmiles says.
That banner, titled We Will Rise Up, is being designed by Annapolis artist Comacell Brown Jr., also known as Cell Spitfire.
Brown used his banner to highlight recent events, calling on elements of injustice, like the death of Breonna Taylor, and moments of excitement, like the Hoop Bus tour stop in Annapolis.
Brown says his piece is meant to commemorate the pursuit of justice for all, through the pandemic. “I always felt like art spoke volumes in itself, more volumes than a person can actually speak sometimes even with a platform,” he said.
After the death of George Floyd, Brown and fellow Annapolis artist Jeff Huntington worked on a freestanding mural of Floyd that featured the names of victims of social injustice. The public attention their piece garnered gave Brown the idea to use his work as an artist to send a much larger message.
“With art, there is no negativity in the protest, at least it’s not seen that way,” Brown said “With artwork, there is no violence. Even if you paint violence, no one is being hurt and that creates a healthy conversation.”
Brown has been painting since age 7, when he discovered art at a Salvation Army after-school day camp. While there were a number of crafts and activities to keep the children busy until their parents came to get them, Brown got his first opportunity to put brush to canvas as well as clothing. Following his passion for art and design into high school, Brown created his own clothing line. From there he sold shirts out of his backpack before attending The Art Institute of Atlanta and graduating with a degree in design in 2007. He now has his own graphic design business and partnered with several non-profits, allowing him to share his artistic knowledge with people from less privileged communities and “connect with those that may possess a real passion for it.”
In addition to his banner, Brown’s work will also be featured in the Maryland Hall portion of the exhibit. His paintings will hang in the same halls where he had begged his grandparents to sign him up for classes as a child, he said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to do something in Maryland Hall,” Brown said.
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Spotlight Artist of the Month - November 2019
(The Capital Gazette Newspaper)
Era 8 Apparel 2020 - New Collections
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AWARDS + ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Entrepreneurial Excellence Award
(presented by Parole Health
Center in Annapolis, MD)
DMV Painter/Drawer of the Year
(presented by Titan Arts Awards)
TDK Memorial / Robinwood Studio Location
In Loving Memory of Edward "Tre' Da Kid" Seay