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Student Artists Showcase Work at the Baltimore Museum of Art

“FYI…For Your Inspiration: Baltimore City Public Schools Student Art Exhibition” Inspired Viewers 

A series of vibrant painted self portraits hung on one wall of the American Wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art. On another, collages of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bob Marley made of magazine snippets. In the center of the gallery, sculptures from found items were on display: headphones made of toilet paper rolls, a gigantic Apple watch made from posterboard, and abstract sculptures reaching skyward like a tree made of yarn, wood, and cardboard. 

From March 9-13, the gallery displayed compelling, thought-provoking, and beautiful work created by City Schools students from Pre-k to 12th grade. FYI…For Your Inspiration: Baltimore City Public Schools Student Art Exhibition featured the work of 213 students from 43 schools across the district. 

In FYI, students expressed themselves through paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs and collages featuring materials like yarn, graphite, charcoal, acrylic paint and recycled items. It was the 15th year of the show and the first available for in-person viewing in two years. In those 15 years, thousands of City Schools students have shown work at the BMA — an honor typically reserved for world-renowned artists that leaves students motivated, proud, and inspired. 

And they should be. Said one show attendee, ​​John Neubauer, City Schools’ Coordinator of World and Classical Languages, “At this year's FYI, students were able to demonstrate that art has the power to transform, to illuminate, to educate, to inspire, and to motivate. More importantly, it allowed students the opportunity to show their courage in the creation of works that were incredibly moving."

Curated by City Schools’ visual arts teachers, the art on display aligned with classroom curriculum with prompts for students to follow their inspiration and use their voices to express themselves. After studying artists like Carie Mae Weems and Devin Allen, students incorporated the approaches and materials they saw into their own work. 

"The Heart Illusion" by fifth grader Rachel Margaret of Gwynns Falls Elementary School

For example, The Heart Illusion by fifth grader Rachel Margaret of Gwynns Falls Elementary School exemplifies the show’s impact. At first glance, a viewer may think the piece is two dimensional and flat. But when taking a closer look, coils of curling paper covered in hearts explode from the flat canvas toward the viewer, its complex beauty brimming with movement, life, and potential. 

Simply put, the show is a testament to the limitless power of creativity. As Chan’nel Howard, City Schools Fine Arts Coordinator says, “sometimes art can be very personal. And allowing our students to express themselves in a safe, encouraging, celebratory space can build confidence, uncover passions, and motivate our students to be their best. As we move forward from COVID-19, restoring the joy of learning is a crucial component of our work. What better way to do that than through the arts?” 

Chan’nel also said that this year's showcase was one of the most ambitious annual shows. "The uses of different types of media show that teachers are taking risks and stepping outside of what they've done before. This is supported by the professional development opportunities we're providing our teachers."

To learn more about the student showcase at the BMA, and to see student work online, click here.