At Blue Water Baltimore we know that nobody understands the solutions to the complex challenges facing urban neighborhoods better than its residents. Photovoice is a unique educational workshop series that seeks to empower local communities to see and shape the world around them through the creative process. This post is the first in a series that will highlight the work of our resident researchers in Oliver. You can read more about the Photovoice Oliver Project here: https://bluewaterbaltimore.org/blog/the-photovoice-project-oliver/. The next series of workshops will be held in Mondawmin this April; Mondawmin residents my contact Blue Water Baltimore’s Outreach & Education Coordinator, Michel Anderson, for more information.
The following photographs and narrative are the work of Oliver resident, Yvonne Hardy-Phillips.
Rock, Scissors, Paper
Cement makes a tree pit
The tree grows in Oliver
Until one day the saw cuts the tree down
To make paper.
This tree stump reminded me of the children’s game “Rock, Scissors, Paper” in that there is an order to life but it can still be a scrap shoot. It’s impossible to tell from looking why this tree was cut down. The circumference of the stump is quite large suggesting that it was a very mature tree that has been lost to the neighborhood.
What remains is an abstract image that can visually suggest many things to the viewer. The snarled exposed roots shooting into the cement surround creates a painterly abstract image that prompts us to think about the ever existing power struggle between man and nature.
In one image, the decayed remains of a piece of fruit, its label lying beside, imply the former presence of a human. Did that person look down and recognize the absence of that tree? Who knows…? I know that I did; hoping that one day a new tree would be planted somewhere in the neighborhood to replace it.
But please, just not in this space where a tree stump can be a work of art.
Yvonne Hardy-Phillips is a socially engaged fine art curator living and working in Baltimore, MD. She believes in the transformative, life enhancing powers of art and design. For the past thirty years Hardy-Phillips has curated dozens of fine art exhibitions – solo and group – that explore the essence of the human experience. Hardy-Phillips advocates for the inclusion of “creative class” practitioners in the economic, cultural and architectural revitalization of Baltimore neighborhoods. The eastside of Baltimore City is her laboratory. Currently, she has partnered with a seasoned urban development company to design and build a multifamily “green” housing complex in the neighborhood of Oliver. Hardy-Phillips is on track to receive her MFA in Curatorial Practice from Maryland Institute College of Art, May 2017.
The views expressed in this post are those of the featured Photovoice participant and not necessarily that of Blue Water Baltimore.