Art of Activism Exhibition and Outdoor Banner Display
Today more than ever we need to use art to not only provide beauty and escapism but also to develop agency, educate, and provide discomfort for the social consciousness. Artists have been using art to communicate societal issues including gender, race, politics, and religion for generations. Art of Activism explores the ways in which current Maryland-based Black artists are using their work as a statement of activism.
Partnership Exhibition with the Banneker-Douglass Museum and Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture
This exhibition is sponsored by the Openshaw Balcony Gallery
January 8 - February 27, 2021
About the Exhibit
Maryland Hall, in partnership with the Banneker Douglass Museum and Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, invited Maryland-based Black artists, whose work encapsulates activism and social justice and using the creative process to educate their audiences about diversity, equity and inclusion to send proposals to take one of six 5 ft. x 9 ft tall Black Lives Matter banners, which were hanging on the front steps of Maryland Hall, to use as a canvas for justice. Selected artists were asked to challenge viewers' perception of art by using their individual banner as a platform to discuss social oppression and systemic patterns through visual or performance art. Artists were commissioned $1,000 to design and create their banners.
The artists selected by a panel of jurors, in addition to having their finished banners displayed on our campus, will participate in a curated exhibition, Art of Activism, which will be on display at Maryland Hall. Hand-selected protest art from private collections will be shown throughout the building to complement current activist art.
- Aaron Maybin, Baltimore
- Ashley Milburn, Baltimore
- David Cassidy, Upper Marlboro
- Nikki Brooks, Hyattsville
- Qrcky, Baltimore
- Schroeder Cherry, Baltimore
Additionally, Comacell Brown was chosen to create work on a Black Lives Matter banner that will hang at the Banneker Douglass Museum and will coincide with artwork in the Art of Activism showcase at Maryland Hall.
Finally, an additional artist, whose work exemplifies ideas of black empowerment and social justice, will be showcased in the exhibit to further deepen the diversity of work and celebrate more Black voices in our Maryland community. That artist is Greta Chapin McGill.
Aaron Maybin is an Art-Activist and former professional football player from Baltimore, Maryland. He was selected as the 11th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills as a former All-American defensive end at Penn State University. Aaron went on to play in the NFL for the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals in a 5-year career before making the decision to walk away to pursue a career as a professional artist, activist, author, educator and community organizer.
Ashley Milburn received his undergraduate fine arts degree in printmaking and art education training from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. He studied arts administration at the University of Utah and is the former Director of Salt Lake City Arts Council in Utah, 1983. The artist received a Master’s in Education and classroom instruction, with a focus on Multiple Intelligences, from the University of Rio Grande, Ohio in 2003 and a Master’s degree in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2007. Milburn has worked, primarily, around organizing communities through culture and art to produce social change.
David W. M. Cassidy grew up in Compton and Los Angeles, California and graduated from George Washington (Preparatory) High School in 1973. He received a B.A. in Urban and Rural Studies, University of California, San Diego, Third College, 1979. He served in the United States Navy as a Hospitalman, Field Medical Tech, X-Ray Tech, and Emergency Medical Tech. A graduate of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), C.H. Mason Seminary, 1990, he graduated with honors and received the Master of Divinity (mdiv). Elder Dave was licensed in 1982, and ordained in 1990 by Bishop George Dallas McKinney Jr., Southern California 2nd Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, of the Church of God in Christ. David Cassidy is a published writer and artist.
Nikki Brooks says, “Activism has been embedded within me since the day my mother guided me to understand the origin of my culture and role within this society. Through the years I have sought out ways to find my artistic voice through images of dark skinned portraiture, and non-figurative (shape, line, color) movement combined with photos, words, fabrics, etc. Having acquired more theoretical pedagogy I am now often thinking how to maneuver around institutional boundaries that wish to silence my creative voice."
Born in southern Virginia during the seventies to a family where art was not practiced or encouraged, Qrcky was drawn instinctively to Chuck Jones' cartoons, Norman Rockwell, and Bob Ross' PBS show. Qrcky would try to imitate their art while watching cartoons. Twenty years later and entirely desolated by a bad marriage and subsequent relationships, Qrcky began to paint reverting to the kinds of self-expression he felt closest to as a child. Finding freedom in his art, Qrcky found his voice by exiling himself away from friends and family. He discovered that under emotional distress and displacement he was able to focus and paint at his strongest while feeling content and whole.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Schroeder Cherry is a now Baltimore-based artist who captures everyday scenes of African diaspora life. He earned a bachelor’s degree in painting and puppetry from The University of Michigan; a master’s degree in museum education from George Washington University; and a doctorate in museum education from Columbia University. An award winning artist, his recent Barbershop Series received an exhibition at The Walters Art Museum in 2019 as a Sondheim finalist, and a one-man exhibition at Baltimore City Hall in 2020. He was awarded the 2020 Municipal Art Society of Baltimore City Artist Travel Prize for research in Bahia, Brazil. His works are found in private and public collections across the US.
Comacell Brown Jr.
Comacell Brown, aka Cell Spitfire, is a multi-disciplinary artist from Annapolis, Maryland, specializing in painting, graphic design, entrepreneurial skills, and local outreach through art. He holds an Associates Degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Atlanta.
His passion for drawing and painting was cultivated at an after school program provided by the Salvation Army. He later began to manifest his love for art on clothing, turning t-shirts and jeans into his new canvas, creating customized apparel. At the age of 18, Comacell embarked on a custom clothing line called Creative Fashions.
Greta Chapin McGill
Greta Chapin McGill is from the DMV, having also lived in New York, New Mexico, and Italia. McGill's work is abstractly real. The techniques are driven by classical art “isms”, indigenous tribal art and a mysterious ancestral DNA. McGill spends time reading, studying and collecting mentors to further my art.
Feminism silently and most profoundly influences her work. McGill says, "Women are the species I know best. I'm driven to tell the story of my time through the eyes of a Black American woman, a feminist and global citizen."
Chanel Compton is inspired and passionate about her role as Executive Director for the Banneker-Douglass Museum (BDM) and Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC). Currently, she serves as Board Chair of the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center and board member to Afro Charities, Maryland Humanities and Future History Now. Ms. Compton has been a life-long supporter of museums; stating, “A museum can be such a powerful place. As a young person, it was my initial visit to museums and galleries that opened my eyes and mind to new perspectives, cultures, and history. African American museums are instrumental in inspiring a new generation of leaders and innovators because they are a place of empowerment, of learning, and a place of individual and collective transformation.” As Executive Director of BDM and MCAAHC, Ms. Compton is dedicated to serving arts communities and artists in Maryland. She has a home and art studio in Baltimore, MD.
Tony J. Spencer
Tony Jerome Spencer was born, raised, and educated in Anne Arundel County. While attending Northeast Senior High School in Pasadena, MD, he developed a love for creating visual art. He obtained both a Bachelor of Arts (1997) and Master’s in Public Administration degrees (2011) from Sojourner/Douglass College in Baltimore, Maryland.
Today, Tony is a practicing visual artist and community advocate. He currently serves on the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. Mr. Spencer is also affiliated with the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority; Black Artist of D. C., Maryland Federation of Art, Northern Arundel Cultural Preservation Society, Inc., August Wilson Society, and the Toni Morrison Society.
Native Annapolitan, Darin Michelle Gilliam has focused on the arts community as well as her personal business that lend creative consulting and design strategy to small businesses, curated art projects, and organizations.
Her design studio, 19FIFTYTHREE, offers creative direction and design for everything from small projects to full brand styling and curated art installations.
When she is not designing, Darin is serving the creative arts community in Annapolis, Maryland, as the Director or Annapolis Arts Week and Co-Owner of ArtFarm Studios, a 3,200 sq. ft space that cultivates the arts through education, gallery exhibits, and art consultation.