Marc Steiner Lecture @ UMBC

Todays lecture by Mark Steiner the radio host of the Mark Steiner sShown was a real treat for all of us involved in the Preserving Spaces Project. Having more then 45 year of experience as an activist, teacher, actor, and radio personal, his accomplishments speak volumes to the social changes he has made in his life and continues to make today. 

The pureness of his actions towards any cause that can better humanity are noble and his message is simple. I took the liberty of recording the lecture for any one who may have not been able to make it to the event.


Jimmy Drake’s “House Full of Stories”

The story is about the last 2 remanding residents of the Greater Baybrook area of Fairfield Jimmy Drake and wife Debbie Mitchell. Prof. Bradley and Prof. King, interviewed the couple right before their little red bricked house was demolished along with the memories they were forced to leave behind. My assignment was to edit the interview into a story that could be used for the Mapping Baybrook Project. 

Jimmy Drake and Debbie Mitchell house.

Jimmy Drake and Debbie Mitchell house.

As part of the documentation process of the class I felt that Jimmy’s stories are a perfect example of what people would want to listen to a couple of years from now. Having never meet Jimmy I was instantly drawn to his unique voice and calm approach to story telling. The human element in his voice made it very comfortable for me to be lost in his stories. The fact that Jimmy is speaking from a place of truth its hard not to want to do something to help.

His story takes us to a bustling and happing city of Fairfield where weekends where reserved for street racing and ice cream.

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American Studies and IRC Linking the Gap

“To commemorate the history and evolving culture of the neighborhood of Baybrook through creating a meaningful space where residents can appreciate their community and empower self-sufficiency, maintenance of health, and sustain social value.” This quote was written by Mercedes Jade a graduate student at UMBC currently involved in the Preserving Space Project. A graduate of MICA with her concentration on painting and installation work, she had proven to be the main link between the IRC Fellows and the American Studies student. Being versed in both the arts and social issues aspect of both world she offers much in the way of the understanding how the two can successfully work together. One such example of this was during are class visit to the Baybrook area this Saturday. During the visit Brian, also an IRC fellow and I took the opportunity to get some suggestion on an idea Brian had mentioned earlier that day, the idea involved hand making donation bins that we could display in and around the Baltimore area in order to help reach are 10,000 dollar goal. Her first suggestion on executing this idea was to first make a few

Mercedes Lopez, offering her input on the new t-shirt design for the Filbert st. Garden.

Mercedes Lopez, offering her input on the new t-shirt design for the Filbert st. Garden.

sample sketches of the vases, then she recommended that Brain make a sample vase for us to present to potential business owner who may be interested in participating. Then she recommended we cater each donation bin to a specific site, by incorporating elements of the design that compliment the space in which it is to be used. The fluidity in which the two where able to bounce ideas around really showed her capacity for interacting with both sides of the spectrum.

In Mercedes quote she embodies the ultimate goal of this project, which is empowering Baybrook to the level of it being self-sufficient. As students helping the Baybrook area reach this goal it is vital that we all work together and join are various strengths in making this happen. By having students like Mercedes that have the experience in both fields she is able to easily pinpoint the best approach in integrating are qualities in furthering are mission.

Rachel Carson: The Environmental Movement Initiate by her Love for Birds.

Silent Spring author Rachel Carson

Silent Spring author Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson an environmentalist against the use of DDT (a chemical pesticide used to control disease’s and the killing off of harmful insects and weeds.) Carson’s story began when she was informed about Robin’s that where dying because of the use of DDT. Moved by the fear of not ever hearing Robin’s chirp in the spring mover Carson into action. DDT at the time before its awareness of harmful properties, was a chemical that was promoted and pushed by both the government and scientist as a safe solution to the problems at hand. Carson concerned with the after effects of such chemical and doing some research on her own on the validity of its effects, wrote a book  called “Silent Spring” that detailed the harm in DDT and informed the masses of its negative long term effects.

Carson a person that went way beyond the call of duty, was meet with absolute opposition by both the government and the pesticide industry in her findings. The power of the pesticide industry was an obstacle that Carson was frustrated with thought her entire DDT movement. Her goal in making people aware of its harmful effects where a continuous battle that she fought with a pen and finally won.

Carson a passionate amateur photographer.

Carson a passionate amateur photographer.

Carson book took on the government and its policies with her passion for the conservation of nature. Although, Carson died of breast cancer her story is one of public awareness and how greed played a part by the pesticides companies to turn a blind eye to its long term chemical effects on the environment. Rachel Carson an environmental conservative and icon to the modern environmental movement is a perfect example on how her passion for a cause was the catalyst for other activist of such issues.

For more information on Rachel Carson here
is a short video on her life:


AMST – IRC Fellows Design Brainstorming Session

Last Tuesday during a very productive and inspiring session with the AMST class, we discussed and showcased different designs and logos for the Filbert St. Garden Project. I was very exited about this and feel that having the AMST class involved in the process is important, and it surely show during are Brainstorming session. The class was very involved with the discussion and provided valuable feedback in improving the designs. The constant back and forth dialogue between us was very fluid and constructive, by the end of it all everyone had a clear idea and the motivation of everyone was very high.

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My involvement in the actually design process was very minimal, however i took this opportunity to step back and really see the hard work that designers actually put into making a design. It also gave me the chance to see a graphic designers creative process in executing such a project. I have always been interested in how artist go from idea to execution, then final project. Since this is something that i also do but have never been able to explain, it was refreshing to see the process first hand without directly being involved with work.

Also, having gotten some really great video and stills from are meeting i was inspired to make a little video. I hope you all enjoy it.


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IRC Still 7

IRC Still 4

IRC Fellows Art Class and Curtis Bay Project Idea

As an artist I have never been able to work on such an ever-changing project with such a talented group of artist.  The opportunity of having all these resources at the tip of my fingers trough the IRC Fellows Program, and also having the chance to work with people who are not only art makers but socially aware art makers has been challenging. Working in this totally different environment where art is used as a tool to promote social awareness is something that I have never though of till now. As artists are main way of communicating is through are art, are symbolism and meaning behind why we do things are usually are owns. This project however is more then just art. It’s a collaborative project where we use art as a weapon for social change within a community. Are goal is to use alternative methods in presenting a vision, in hopes of leaving people with a positive but contemplative view of the message behind are work.  As artist and humans its are duty to communicate not only art, but also what we stand against.

Still in the beginning stages of developing an idea, I myself feel that this new approach in creating art still needs more researching in my part. I am intrigued by artist like Mel Chin, that are not only makes of art, but also take it a step forward by creating art that is functional in itself by providing alternative solutions to social issues. His art deals with common social problems and looks at solutions through art in a different light. Chins ability to creatively create art that make people aware of particular real world social issues is what I am particularly fascinated by. It gives his art that added edge by making it his form of creating dialoged amongst different people. His work explores the role of the arts and creative practice in creating new connections between people and where they live in order to strengthen communities. The unique and valuable role we play as creators should be looked at as a gift for a greaten good in enhancing and exposing various social issues that plague communities like Brooklyn Curtis Bay.

My first idea that was mainly inspired by Prof. Bradleys, work where he recorded conversations between high school students and local elders from Brooklyn Curtis Bay community involves a similar approach, however I intend on giving it a bit of a twist. What I had in mind was to use short compelling recording of significant memories that we can add on to the website. This would work in conjunction to the mapping system we have where as you navigate through the different location you would then have the option of listening to a recording of a fond memory that someone had in that same exact location. The part of the idea that I most exited about is that this could be something that could be updated by having locals or visitors of Brooklyn Curtis Bay, submit memories of their own experiences in particular location on the map for visitor of the website to listen to.  As I said this is still an idea, but I do feel that the idea if executed properly could not only bring more traffic to the website, but also give the places on the virtual map a more real and human connection to the different landmarks Brooklyn Curtis Bay has to offer.

Project 4: Body Extension “Who I Am”


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Who I Am, Mask 5′ x 7′, Hand 6′ x 9′, Origami Box 10cm x 10cm

Cardboard Paper, Copper Wire, Clear Tape, Markers


 I believe in doing at least one thing that scares you each day, but for me performing in front of people has got to be the most terrifying thing on earth. Standing in front of a crowd of people makes me think that an F on the assignment might be a better alternative. I wish I were like my 3 year old niece, who is as fearless as Jean-Claude Van Damme in “Blood Sport.” I hate to admit it, but I really contemplated bringing my niece to class and having her perform the piece.

In the initial stages of the project my main obstacle was not giving both the performance, and the body extension part equal amount of attention. I noticed that if I focused more on the performing part of the project I would shy away from anything that involved too much of an elaborate performance. On the other hand if I focused on the body extension part I would totally neglect the performance aspect of the assignment. Realizing this, I decided to use a mask as one of my body extension to help me in someway disguise not only my face, but also my fear of performing. The second bodily function I choice to extend was my right hand, the hand help with more of the performing aspect of the piece.

Like all my other pieces the main goal was to work with what I had available, I believe that working with the most minimal resources forces the artist to really on creativity. The materials used for the piece were very simple, cardboard paper, clear tape, markers, and staplers. The construction of the hand and boxes was inspired by origami tutorial I saw on YouTube. As for the mask I didn’t want anything to elaborate, I wanted the mask to have a human look but I wanted it to cover my face.

The inspiration for the piece was my fear of performing, however the meaning behind the piece was of my insecurities and vulnerability in expressing this. The mask was literally a mask masking all my anxieties, it also simply hide my face, which I though would act as a barriers from the people watching my performance. T

I am very proud of myself and in the final product of the piece. As I am with most of my pieces I do feel that there is always room for improvement. This project challenged me in ways that I have never been challenged, it arouse different obstacles that I don’t typically encounter in other forms of art. This experience has exposed me to a different and just a challenging art form, I has made me appreciate the act of performing art.

Project 3: Virtual Possibilities “Modern Day Voyeur”

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Modern Day Voyeur Length 184 Feet x Height 250

The project started like any other assignment, bits and pieces of ideas form in my head then its up to me to put all these ideas together. Most of the time this system usually works out, however with this project my fail-safe system or routine forced me to take other measures. Measures that forced me to use my creativity instead of relying on my technical abilities to help me better present my idea.  By not really having had any experience with SketchUp it made the experimental stage of the project a little difficult, I found it frustrating coming up with an idea without knowing what the program could really do. The piece, which is titled “Modern Day Voyeur”, was an idea that came to me while studying the works of Paolo Cirio, Peter Root, Clement Valla, and Michael Wolf. I mention these artists because of their common curiosity of Google Earth on their works. Modern Day Voyeur is my interpretation of the Google Earth experience in a purely virtual world. The way all the components of the work seem to be gazing at each other, and how the viewer of the piece also follows that gaze. I was amazed at the realization of this concept while scouring Google Earth during the initial stages of the creative process. I was also reminded of two films that deal with this concept of voyeurism The Conversation mad Blow Up. These great films explore the fascinating worlds of voyeurism in the form of audio or visually. As I said earlier not having had much practice with SketchUp proved to be a challenge in the developmental stage of the process. The differences in approach to a virtual project compared to a hands-on work were very different, that’s why I was forced to change my approach in the experimental stage. The first difference was not being totally confident on weather SketchUp could interpret my idea in its software. The second difference was the endless possibilities within SketchUp’s virtual world of no gravity, limitless 3d images, and its never-ending space. A difficulty that I came up with was not pushing the idea further then I think I could have taken it. Again, I think time played a huge roll in not having the proper time to fully experiment with the software and its endless function. I understand this is a fast paced course, however as noted from other assignments allocating the proper time to develop an idea sure makes a difference in the end results

Project 2: Site Specificity

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The Colorful Line 20″x22″ Shirts/Clothesline/Clothespins/ Markers/Staples

It was the summer of 2010 when I decided to take a break from life and leave the country for 3 months. The destination was Eritrea, which is located in East Africa near the Red Sea. Passport in hand I was ready for some much needed peace of mind, the peace of mind that unfortunately does not exist in the western world. One of the many memorable moments was a road trip my grandfather I took to the beach of Massawa. This is when I noticed how something as simple as drying your cloths outdoors could be so beautiful and inspiring. The way in which the colorfulness of Eritrean ethnic garments sway o so slightly as light breezes hits them was visually stunning. Surrounded by desert and dirt the clotheslines would give life to an otherwise desolate area. The array of colors swinging from the clotheslines, the way in which no color was muted was influential in regards to this project. This event was the catalyst and inspiration for project two.

With The concept in place I was faced with taking this idea and trying to visually represent it in space. The process of visually presenting this idea was very hard for me, finding the correct method and environment to represent this idea proved to be a very difficult task. One of the main issues was the lack of experience in art and its meaning in relation to its visual representation. I wanted this project to have subtle undertone of the original idea but is not be to obvious where the viewer is not challenged mentally. The experimental stage of the project really played a big part in my final decision for the layout of the piece. In this experimental stage i mostly focused on how I was going to place the clothing, and how I could alter the clothing to better help it integrate itself in the space. In my opinion the staircase was not the most ideal place to show the piece, however after slightly adjusting my original idea it worked well with the new design.

In terms of material my only limitation was to use what was really needed to hang clothing. I felt that doing something fancy and over the top would take away from the simplicity of the original idea. I used 5 30-foot clotheslines for each floor, 5 different colored shirts, and staples. The only material that is not visible is the staplers. The staplers where used to join the cut pieces of the shirts together ones hung.

Throughout the whole process the only thing that was certain was the source of inspiration. The rest of the journey was guided solely by intuition and trail and error. It is unusual for me to work this way because of its uncertainty, and it can be very nerve-racking to rely only on instincts. What I realized about this process was that after giving in it frees the artist from any vision, or assumption of what the piece should look like. This helped me in not committing to an exact idea, which gives the final project a form and representation not expected by the artist.

I would also like to note that prior to the critic I had no interpretation for the work. All I was certain about was the initial inspiration for the concept, however after critic a fellow student brought something to light that hit home. Sam’s interpretation of the piece was that the separation of the clothing was my own separation with my country, and that the displacement of the clothesline indoor may have been my subconscious emotion to being away from my true home. Sam’s interpretation of the piece really sparked some really strong’s emotions. I feel that in some was I am expressing subconscious nostalgic felling towards both my country and my grandfather.

Project 1: Constructed Replication






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July 4th in Space 15″ x 17″ Bendy Straws and Tape – 2013

The idea came to me during a spectacular firework display I witnessed at the National Mall on the 4th of July. The display was a glowing dance of color that seemed to gaze down at me illuminating the faces of the spectators below.  What interested me most about the show was the radiating outwards flow from the center of the firework to a larger uniform explosion of color. That outwardly explosion was what initiated the idea for my piece “July 4th in Space.”

The materials used for this piece where colored bendy straws, clear tape, and 0.05 fishing line. The reason why I choose bendy straws for this piece was for its really long shape, however it took some experimenting before I was finally satisfied with the final form. This final form was similar to what I saw during the firework, small thin strips cut down the straws to form an explosion like pattern. To vary the different forms I inserted more straws to emphasize the outwardly explosion of the straws. I then connected the bendy straws end to end while using the bendy part of the straw to give the piece a uniform structure.

The hardest part during the process of this piece was the experimental stage. Figuring out the most effective way to portray the outwardly flow of the firework proved to be a very difficult task. One of the issues that I came across with the straws was not having the right colored straws. At first I was using a white straw with a single red line that looked very simple and uninteresting. I then decided to experiment further with colored straws and the difference was instantaneous. The way in which I was able to stack the different colored straws helped in showing an outwardly explosion pattern to the form. Another issues that I came across were the ways in which I was going to display the piece. I was stuck on whether to have it sit flat on a black surface to bring out the color of the straw, or whether I should dangle a line from the ceiling letting the piece dangle in space. As you can see having the piece dangle was what I choose, I felt that was the better choice in displaying it.

As my professor ones said an artist in never happy with the outcome on their art, one fells like it could always have been better. This is exactly how I feel about all my artwork. With this particular piece I wish I had more time to study the material, I noticed that the more I worked and examined the material the more my form developed. I am sure that the more time I would have spent evaluating trough trial and error with the straws, I would have definitely came up with a better and more improved form. The task of taking such a mundane material and transforming it into something interesting really tests ones creative ability. As an art student I value this sort of exercise and feel that limiting the time in which we were giving to complete this project helps us better build are creative instinct.

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