Tag Archives: Imagining Home

Talking life and the sociological imagination with jude Lombardi

me_camera

jude Lombardi will be presenting her film Gentrification (k)NOT Movie on March 19th as a part of the BMA’s Open Hours Program.

The Gentrification (k)NOT Movie was born out of conversations jude had at the Station North Arts Café with owner Kevin Brown, who has been working in Station North for years. In 2002, Station North Arts District became the first designated arts district in Maryland. jude and Kevin felt the need to explore what was happening in the neighborhood which housed MICA and a burgeoning art scene, as well as changes happening all over the world in cities, often through arts-driven by development. Her film is meant to provoke questions about change and transformations: What is healthy neighborhood change? What is lost when a place is redeveloped? How might we prevent gentrification from happening during revitalization of a neighborhood?

I spoke with her about home and place and teaching, the parts that make a life. Hope you can join us at the BMA on March 19th for the screening and conversation.

What is home to you?
Home is where I live when I am not out in the world. It is a safe, warm, loving space that every human being deserves to experience on a daily bases. My home is in Baltimore and has been since my birth.

Can you tell me a bit about your classes when you teach sociology?
When I taught sociology, the scientific study of one’s own society and all that this entails (I know, that’s a lot), my favorite activity was encouraging students to develop a “sociological imagination.” The term “sociological imagination,” one of the most popular terms in sociology, was invented by C. Wright Mills (1959). He wrote a book on the topic by the same name. A sociological imagination is a way of looking at how one views the world, oneself, and their society. It’s about exploring one’s own biography within a historical context, nested in traditions, beliefs and other cultural artifacts. It makes a distinction between [when is] a “personal trouble” and “public issue[s],” and how they might intersect.

Not only is developing a sociological imagination about the biographical in a historical context, it is about exploring the “social” structures, or not so “social” structures that we co-construct and maintain through our language, beliefs and actions. It’s about living in a milieu–a system–and how the elements of that system might orient how one thinks, perceives and acts. It’s about understanding one’s self and our relations with “others,” not necessarily like us

As one person states in the Gentrification (k)NOT Movie, “How you view gentrification depends on where you sit.” That is, one’s position and positioning in the society in which they live affects one’s life choices and life chances.

Finally, when developing a sociological imagination, one’s sense of responsibility and ability for generating a society they desire emerges. Including how one’s thoughts, wants and actions might make a difference that makes a difference (human agency). It is a model for exploring and designing the constraints and possibilities for generating a society one desires to be an element of. (Interview with Lombardi, Sociological Imagination)

corner (002)

How is this connected to understanding gentrification?
Today, gentrification is happening worldwide–locally, nationally and globally. It is a public issue.

Once I developed a sociological imagination I had little choice but to work in ways that improve the society I live in. That is one reason why I became a social worker, then a therapist, then a professor and then, a filmmaker. The films I make are about people trying to make a difference in the society in which they live.

The word gentrification was originally designed by British sociologist Ruth Glass to point at a particular dynamic that emerges when a “gentry” of people move into a neighborhood (1964). It was meant to connote a process by which during the revitalization of a neighborhood the residents who live there–through no fault of their own–can no longer afford to live there and are eventually displaced.

What I noticed was in our daily discourse the term gentrification had lost its original meaning. As I say in the movie, “If you think it means one thing and I think it means another than how do we design revitalization in ways that prevent it–gentrification–from happening?”

My intentions when making the movie were to explore the meaning of the term ‘gentrification’, to educate people about its original meaning and to offer possible ways for designing the revitalization and development of our neighborhoods so that people are not displaced from their homes.

What might a healthy change to a neighborhood look like?
The Gentrification (k)NOT Movie explores a variety of elements for creating healthy neighborhoods. In the movie I quote former Baltimore City Health Commissioner Peter Bellenson, MD, citing four basics for generating a healthy neighborhood: decent schools, decent housing, access to a living wage–work, and health. Mindy Fullilove MD, talks about the importance of generating social networks for sustaining healthy neighborhoods. She also offers a distinction between healthcare and disease management, arguing that 90% of our money goes to disease management while only 10% goes toward healthcare. Thus putting the cart before the horse.

Fullilove is the author of Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It.  ‘Rootshock’ is a term she adapted from gardening, which describes the loss of one’s personal ecosystem when our networks are destroyed and displacement happens.

 What is a city of the future?
I cannot say what a city of the future looks like. What I can say is what I desire. What I desire is space where there is participation by all when making decisions and designing our city.  Be aware when there is participation by all conflict will emerge, it is natural. It is how we deal with our conflict today (violence) that is unnatural. So this requires, among other things, our ability and a desire to participate in deep conversations embracing our conflicts as opportunities for generating something new.

What is one of your favorite spots in Baltimore?
One of my favorite spots in Baltimore is the Stadium Place, home to over 400 senior citizens of mixed income. It is an affordable housing community that emerged where the historical Memorial Stadium was once located. Stadium Place is featured in the Gentrification (k)NOT Movie as a prototype for revitalization without gentrification. Stadium Place sits in the middle of a historically diverse set of neighborhoods known as Waverly, Homestead, Edner Gardens, Montebello and Coldstream. All of which were — by order of the mayor –involved in the planning and re-development of this huge piece of land now known as Stadium Place.

How did this happen? What were the elements that allowed for this community to come into being without displacing any of its neighbors or neighborhoods?  For more information about Stadium Place and its history, come see the Gentrification (kNOT) Movie.

Judith (jude) Lombardi, LCSW-C, Ph.D. is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work (1981) and a social worker who went back to graduate school, then taught college-level Sociology for over a decade. She now makes documentary movies about people doing what people do. 

Gentrification k(NOT): A Film Screening and Conversation about Displacement in Baltimore is on at the BMA on March 19, 2016 @ 1:00 pm, as part of the BMA’s monthly Open Hours program.

A Short History of Epic Pillow Forts

Since the dawn of time, humans have been rearranging their stuff. Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Great Pyramids, can all be seen as the results of people deciding to move their things around. As soon as couch cushions, chairs, and blankets were available, someone was probably combining these pieces in ways that they were never intended to be combined. People (of all ages) use furniture and fabric to make forts within their homes for a lot of reasons, but most of these boil down to a need find some temporary refuge from everyday life. If the home is a shelter, then the pillow fort is a shelter within the shelter, an interior within the interior. The pillow fort is defensible space, but it is not made of hard warlike materials. Instead it is soft, the comfortable, inviting ordinary stuff of the home is rearranged into new configurations to make new kinds of space. The pillow fort has a whimsical legibility, it reads as both the castle and the couch at the same time, and it invites us to engage with it, to use it, and to remake it. This making and remaking is extra fun with company. Just like in full size home-building (or Stonehenge building), the creation of the pillow fort needs extra hands present, if only to balance the couch cushions while the blanket is draped over the top.

A sketch of the BMA's pillow fort activity

A sketch of the BMA’s pillow fort activity

The pillow fort uses many of the same construction methods present in domestic architectural history. First a site must be chosen and prepared. Low heavy space can be made by stacking things, and higher, lighter space is defined by adaptable frames. Modular textiles can wrap around all of this and create enclosure, with openings back to the outside world. No pillow fort, or house, is complete without something like a hearth. People need light, entertainment, and the social space that’s created around an active center like a fireplace, ipad, or flashlight…

For The Baltimore Museum of Art’s first Art After Hours event, come join us in the collaborative construction of a giant pillow fort in the Museum’s East Lobby. The event will include live music, local food and beer, and other activities in conjunction with the Imagining Home exhibition. Baltimore is our home, and the BMA invites you to come and make yourself at home here for the evening. We’ll make a temporary home within the lobby, come participate in person, and follow along with the hashtag #BMApillowfort on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The pillow fort will be up over the weekend, but we hope you’ll be comfortable and cozy enough to come back anytime!

– Fred Scharmen and Marian April Glebes

Postcards from Imagining Home

My home begins anywhere I can run fast and without fear of capture. My home is a bag on my back and a bike under my legs. The world jostles for my attention and I move move move. My home is my body.

My home begins anywhere I can run fast and without fear of capture. My home is a bag on my back and a bike under my legs. The world jostles for my attention and I move move move. My home is my body.

I used to think my roles only consisted of things like retrieving the chicken's eggs. But now I understand it goes far beyond that. I know my roles include loving my gay brother and making things right with my dad.

I used to think my roles only consisted of things like retrieving the chicken’s eggs. But now I understand it goes far beyond that. I know my roles include loving my gay brother and making things right with my dad.

It is in a country and a city where you are free to walk outside your home and go where you will, say what you want, think or write what you want without fear that your door will be battered down by oppressors. At home, you have enough to eat and you are safe.

It is in a country and a city where you are free to walk outside your home and go where you will, say what you want, think or write what you want without fear that your door will be battered down by oppressors. At home, you have enough to eat and you are safe.

Your home is inside of you. You take it everywhere and no one can take it away from you. It is what you believe, love, stand for.

Your home is inside of you. You take it everywhere and no one can take it away from you. It is what you believe, love, stand for.

As the oldest child in a Korean-American home, I play the role of the dependable "son" my parents never had. Clearly a daughter and oldest sister, I also play the role as my sister's 2nd mother due to her being 7 years younger than me. Those are my roles.

As the oldest child in a Korean-American home, I play the role of the dependable “son” my parents never had. Clearly a daughter and oldest sister, I also play the role as my sister’s 2nd mother due to her being 7 years younger than me. Those are my roles.

Somewhere to rest my bones with the ones I love.

Somewhere to rest my bones with the ones I love.

These postcards were submitted as part of an activity in the BMA’s Imagining Home exhibition. Visitors are invited to write a postcard responding to questions about what home means to them, and then the postcards are mailed to other BMA visitors. Anyone who would like to receive a postcard can submit their address.

Home Stories Profiles: Detwiler Household

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detwiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month? Home Stories is our quest to find out…

Dan Detwiler and his son Drew come to the BMA’s Free Family Sundays events regularly. Drew is an avid artist, and their home is filled with his drawings, paintings, and sculptures. He recently made a series of drawings of great buildings from around the world, such as the Leaning Tower of Piza and the Eiffel Tower, which he complemented with a futuristic imaginary city built of Legos that includes two towering restaurants, a city hall, an art museum (of course), and more.

Dan and Drew got the shower curtain for their Home Stories artwork because they were one of the most adventurous families to participate in this project. It’s no easy thing to live with a huge artwork in your most private room, least of all one that addresses you each time you read it.

Here we have a special treat: an extended video of Dan and Drew talking about their experiences living with this incredible shower curtain.

When you visit Imagining Home at the BMA you’ll have the opportunity to watch a video of Dan and Drew with Issue 16 of Thing Quarterly alongside another household that also lived with it.

You can also listen to three participants in the Home Stories project, including Dan, read the text on the shower curtain:

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home.

An eye for detail: Walking through Imagining Home with Associate Curator Oliver Shell

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal "291" (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915. Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. (13 1/8 x 10 3/8 in.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. From the journal “291” (Nos. 7-8, September-October 1915). 1907, published 1915.
Photogravure, Sheet: 465 x 318 mm. (18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.), Image: 333 x 264 mm. (13 1/8 x 10 3/8 in.)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Cary Ross, BMA 1988.565

Images contain details that can be enlightening or senseless, or whose import may be lost due the passage of time.  In an exhibition like Imagining Home with so many big themes, I find myself fixated by particulars. The passengers in Alfred Stieglitz’s classic photograph The Steerage almost universally wear hats or head gear. The women wear head scarves while among the men we see workers caps, fancy bowler hats, and one very prominent straw boater. What did it mean to wear a straw boater or bowler hat while traveling in steerage in 1907? Was there any difference? The larger point may be that in this era nobody left his or her home without some form of head covering–a practice that died out somewhere in the mid-20th century. My grandmother still wore a hat when she went to town. I do not! Lost rituals of propriety create a separation between their world and ours.

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood. c. 1795-1800 Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood. c. 1795-1800. Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

Marguerite Gérard. Motherhood (detail). c. 1795-1800 Oil on wood panel, 24 x 20 in. (61.0 x 50.8 cm.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Elise Agnus Daingerfield, BMA 1944.102

The oil lamp depicted in Marguerite Gerard’s Motherhood is among the most exquisitely complex light fixtures that I have ever seen. Symbolically, this may be fitting for a work produced in the ‘age of enlightenment.’ Unfortunately, this lamp sheds little light onto the purpose of some of the other props in this room.  For instance, what are we to make of the large panel leaning against the wall, behind the mother? It depicts three rows of hand-written yet indecipherable words. My sense is that it would have been a recognizable object in its day, otherwise why include it? Perhaps it may serve some pedagogical function in the child’s upbringing—perhaps an aid to reading? The child seems too young for such instruction, and yet, it could signal a future intention to nurture and educate the child at home.

It is not purely by chance that Frances Benjamin Johnston’s photograph, Sophia’s Dairy, Harford County, Maryland, showing a double staircase in a seemingly vacant house, appears to dance as though liberated from any architectural rule. It is as though the photographer were channeling Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who’s Imaginary Prisons prints included staircases leading madly in pointless directions.

Frances Benjamin Johnston. Sophia's Dairy, Harford County, Maryland. 1936-1937. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase Fund. BMA 1938.37

Frances Benjamin Johnston. Sophia’s Dairy, Harford County, Maryland. 1936-1937. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchase Fund. BMA 1938.37

A closer look reveals that Johnston has most deliberately chosen the single angle and camera elevation where the ascending stairs, at left, seem parallel to the top 4 stairs, which are in fact at a 90 degree angle to the lower 9 stairs.  This creates a seemingly uninterrupted ascent and obscures the shared landing at the level of the top of the door.  Not only does one have to turn 90 degrees to ascend further, but one has to do so twice in order to reach the second floor.  The turning motif is architecturally expressed through the rolled terminal volute of the bannister; but the true direction of the rising dark bannister is obscured (just where it turns 90 degrees for the first time) through its carefully planned visual intersection with the bottom rail of the second floor bannister.  Johnston’s game is to confuse the eye and liberate the architectural components from their structural duties with joyous irrational effect. Her play is achieved through the manipulation of details.

Imagining Home brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home. The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between Director of Interpretation and Public Engagement Gamynne Guillotte and Associate Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Oliver Shell.

 

Home Stories at the BMA

Dan and Drew Detweiler of Home Stories

Dan and Drew Detweiler lived with “Issue 16” of “The Thing”—a shower curtain.

What could people discover about their ideas of home and art by living with a life size reproduction of a BMA artwork for one month?
Home Stories is the BMA’s quest to find out.

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition in the BMA’s new Joseph Education Center, is an exploration of the multitude of ways that people around the world think about home. We thought it would be interesting to include a project based around art in the home because so many of the artworks in the exhibition were originally intended to be displayed in homes. Home Stories was conceived as a program in which households from across Baltimore would live with artwork reproductions for about a month, and then we would interview them about their experience.

Eleven households were selected from across the Baltimore area, with an eye towards diversity in age, race, class, neighborhood, and household composition. The participants also brought a great range in experience with art, from novice collectors and makers to experienced artists and curators. This diversity in perspectives allowed us to explore a wonderful variety of responses to the artworks.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the "Rich and Poor" Series by Jim Goldberg.

Francine Housier and Kalima Young lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” Series by Jim Goldberg.

We hypothesized that this would be a very personal experience for the participants and that each household would have a unique experience. We also hoped that living with artwork reproductions would lead participants to think about art in a new way. Our expectations were wildly exceeded on both counts.

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg

LaMecka Moore and family lived with selections from the “Rich and Poor” series by Jim Goldberg

The artworks selected for this project include the colorful painting A Quick Nap by Walter Williams, the detailed photograph The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz, a set of four annotated photographs from the Rich and Poor series by Jim Goldberg, and Issue 16 from The Thing, which is a shower curtain with text by Dave Eggers. Each of these works presented different challenges for participants. The Williams is big, but very charming. The Stieglitz is a bit smaller with details that make you want to get up close and examine it. The Goldbergs are emotionally challenging because the annotations are very personal and often sad. The shower curtain is, well, a shower curtain—imagine a piece of art that big in the place where you bathe!

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for "The Steerage."

Melinda and Kathy Condray watching the Home Stories video for “The Steerage.”

Over the next several months, we’re going to share some our Home Stories with you here on the blog. You can also visit the BMA to see the art, and watch the Home Stories videos to discover for yourself what our participants experienced.

You See Out. No One Sees In.

Angels Over Rowhouse Collington - Anna Pasqualucci

Angels Over Rowhouse Collington – Anna Pasqualucci

Elaine Eff, Maryland State folklorist

Painted screens—a Baltimore icon—first appeared in the city 1913, one year ahead of the Baltimore Museum of Art. Their origin is traced to William Oktavec, a Bohemian grocer who painted the screen doors of his corner store with pictures of the produce and meats he sold. From outside, you could not see beyond his handiwork. From inside, you had a clear view to the street.

The virtue of privacy was not lost on his neighbors, whose homes had no buffer from the sidewalk. Little Bohemia was awash with new rowhomes, taverns, corner stores, churches, schools and every amenity required to secure a new community. Soon “Oktavec the butcher,” became “Oktavec the artist,” opening The Art Shop, where he trained his sons and a few chosen apprentices in the art of screen painting.

As business grew, Oktavec borrowed images from calendars and greeting cards to paint the wire mesh. Soon, the red roofed mill or cottage became synonymous with the painted screens, which were in such demand that by the 1960s dozens of artists and dabblers had completed around 200,000 windows and door screens.

Flash forward to the 1980s.
The Painted Screen Society was founded in 1985 as a guild of screen painters, quickly becoming a community and regional non-profit to promote and preserve rowhouse arts. Painters led demonstrations and workshops. Emerging artists worked alongside masters. The Maryland State Arts Council supported apprenticeships through its folklife program, Maryland Traditions. A new breed of painters emerged, whose subjects – abstracts, portraits, and narrative scenes– would have once been unimaginable.

Screens may have diminished in numbers, but neighborhoods like Highlandtown and Canton have kept the tradition alive. Explore Eastern Avenue below Conkling Street, the Patterson Theater, Highlandtown Gallery and DiPasquale’s Italian Deli/Pompeii area for some real surprises. (Walking tour maps are available from HA! and the Painted Screen Society.)

You are invited to try your hand at painting screens at the BMA’s Imagining Home Opening Celebration on October 25, 11am-5pm. Artists Anna Pasqualucci and John Iampieri, both self-taught, bring their memories of discovering screens as youngsters in old Baltimore to bear in their very contemporary work. They share their skill and enthusiasm, as well as the secrets of screen painting.

Elaine Eff has chronicled Baltimore’s unique folk art since the 1970s when thousands of painted screens covered row house windows and doors throughout the city. She will be eager to listen to your memories, and sign the book The Painted Screens of Baltimore: An Urban Folk Art Revealed at Sunday’s event.

Arabbers - John Iampieri

Arabbers – John Iampieri

Home is Where the Healing Happens

Olivia June Fite, OHerbals

During a workshop I was leading at an International Woman’s Day celebration I asked participants to share “What home remedies do you remember from your childhood?” It was amazing to hear as the woman recalled, sometimes with difficulty and sometimes with joyful certainty, the healing that happened at home.

It is a question that is rarely asked and in today’s modern times more often forgotten. Whether it is gripe water for a colicky baby, onion syrup for a cough, or a good old Epsom salt foot soak, there is a tremendous amount of healing that has happened at the hands of parents, grandparents, friends, and even the neighborhood natural healer.

My work as a community educator and as a wellness clinician often focuses on re-introducing these easy and vital self/family care techniques to folk. It is always a process of excitement & empowerment. I love showing people the medicine that is growing up & out of our city sidewalks and backyards. I live for watching folks make their first vinegar infusion. I am even astonished when I try new remedies that others have passed on to me.

Holding the knowledge & skills of home healing can be money & time savers as well. If you have a spice rack in your house you also have lots of good medicine. Modern science is slowly catching up as papers are published on the healing powers of saffron, turmeric, and garlic. We cannot forget that people have known this for a long time through a different type of wisdom and investigation.

Home remedies also remind us that we are part of a larger matrix, interconnected with nature. We owe it to ourselves, and the future generations, to keep that knowledge alive. When we care for those around us with food, joy & plant medicine, we are practicing the oldest and most tested form of healing, and it can happen right here at home.

Recipe for Onion Syrup

  • In a ½ pint glass Mason jar, layer slices of white onion and sugar until jar is filled. You should be able to fit about 4 layers in the jar.
  • Seal with a clean lid. Give it a good shake to spread the sugar to cover the onion slices.
  • Watch over the next two days as the sugar dissolves the onions.
  • Strain what is left of the onions out of the syrup.
  • Store syrup for 2 months in the fridge.
  • Use 1 teaspoon in hot tea to help with coughs and colds.

You can learn more about Olivia’s work with home remedies at the BMA’s Imagining Home Opening Celebration, Sunday, October 25, 2015. In this free and festive day-long event enjoy creative art-making activities, fascinating demonstrations, lively performances, and intriguing in-gallery conversations that engage with the deep, varied, and complex connections we all have to home.

 

Making crazy quilts with artist Susie Brandt

Susie Brandt's 1970's Crazy Quilts

Susie Brandt’s 1970’s Crazy Quilt

Baltimore based artist Susie Brandt will be running a crazy quilt activity from 12pm-3pm at the BMA’s Imagining Home Opening Celebration, Sunday, October 25, 2015. Below, she explains how she fell in love with crazy quilts.

As a kid, I was completely enchanted by a crazy quilt on display at the local historical museum. Made over the course of many years by a woman working out on the front porch of her big Queen Anne house in Glens Falls, NY, it looked a lot like the quilts now on display at the BMA. I loved all the dazzling silk and velvet fabrics, and the gloriously complex feather stitching. Carefully embroidered throughout that quilt were all kinds of flowers, and fans, and spiders.

In the early 1970’s my mother and I started our own interpretation of that crazy quilt using scraps from our own home sewing projects. We made a dozen or so blocks, before we got sidetracked with other things.

Then life happened. I grew up to become an artist and carried those blocks around for decades. Last year, when my older niece was graduating high school, I dug them out and finished one quilt – using family fabrics going back three generations. I also saved some of the original blocks for a second quilt that I’ll give my younger niece when she graduates next year.

For the BMA workshop, we’ll show you how to piece your own block one patch at a time. We’ll use the decorative stitches on the sewing machine and fabrics that reflect the motifs commonly seen in crazy quilts – florals, fans, peacocks, kitties, moons and stars. Perhaps we can launch your own family project.

Imagining Home, the inaugural exhibition for the BMA’s new Center for People & Art, brings together more than 30 works from across the BMA’s collection to explore the universal theme of home. Discover paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, and works on paper from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, as well as four miniature rooms, plus a variety of interactive features in three thematic areas.

Susie Brandt's 1970's Crazy Quilts