Sparking Creativity, Sparking Hope

As an Open Society Baltimore Community Fellow, artist Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen worked with the students at the inner-city Lockerman-Bundy Elementary School to create murals in the hallways that brighten the school and improve student attitudes. “I want to spark creativity,” he said of his work with community murals in the city. “Not everyone can paint, but everyone can create. We have a theme, generally about hope and possibility. There is enough nightmare all around.”

The project brought together all members of the community—children, parents, grandparents and teachers at a time when the community was eager for cohesion. The walls of Lockerman-Bundy’s hallways used to be white. “Now it is a big burst of color,” the principal, Cynthia Cunningham-Evans, said. “Every time you go upstairs, you feel like you want to smile. I did not think it would make as big a difference as it has.”

The school, which originally had been slated to close because it was under performing, became instead a vibrant center for learning and now, other resources are recognizing the potential.  For example, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s opened its OrchKids initiative there, teaching more than 150 students, including Pre-K through second grade students, how to read and play jubilant music. In an atmosphere of color and beautiful sound, city leaders and community members alike are thrilled with the transformation.

The Baltimore Community Fellowships Program supports work in all areas of community life, including the arts, public health, criminal justice, civil rights, economic justice, and media advocacy. Fellows are individuals with a strong vision and desire to serve and improve marginalized communities in Baltimore. Many of the over 120 individuals who have been named fellows have gone on to become recognized leaders in the city.