Kid’s Art Project Paints the Town Beautiful

by Jenny Harvey
       Original children’s artwork has been hung on vacant houses in city neighborhoods that don’t usually experience such beautification.
       Their self-portraits were generated in the Kid’s Art Project, sponsored by the Village Learning Place. Ceremonies were held in February in honor of their efforts at 326 East Federal Street, 350 Whitridge Avene, and 2431 N. Calvert Street, featuring the student artists from nearby elementary schools.
       The Kid’s Art Project matched energetic local artists with budding young students to create the artwork for the windows and doors of the abandoned houses the youngsters pass every day on the way to school.
       Some Baltimore City schools can only provide art instruction once every two weeks, if at all. “These kids had never used a charcoal pencil,” said Auggie Bellanca, KAP teacher at The Barclay School.
       Using grant monies received by the Charles Village Community Benefits District, the Village Learning Place introduced children to new and exciting materials like Polaroid cameras and a variety of paints. At Margaret Brent Elementary, artist Rebecca Yenawine brought a live teen volunteer for the children to sketch. “We got him to do some crazy poses!” said fourth grader Arielle Crudup.
       “A program like this brings resources to kids who need them, and lets their individual talents shine,” says Village Learning Place Executive Director Jennifer Feit. At least one student will be recommended to the Twigs program at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
       The Project did more than teach kids how to draw. “You could almost see their self-confidence improve as they worked,” observed Chris Emigholz as the students at Mildred Monroe Elementary painted large pieces of plywood. Student Shadai Johnson said simply, “I want this to look really pretty--just like me.”
       Now the boards are bright and colorful self-portraits ready to go up in place of plain boards on eyesore buildings. Local residents are eager to see “anything to make this place look better-- anything for the children,” as one onlooker said.
       The children have learned and demonstrated that art can make a difference in their schools and neighborhoods.

Jenny Harvey is Youth Outreach Coordinator of the Village Learning Place. For information, call 235-8400

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This story was published on March 1, 2000.