From the Washington Post: The question on the paper in front of him read, “What do you think people assume about you by just looking at you?”
The high school senior answered in five words: “I am a living problem.”
It was a sentiment art teacher Kristen Yoder would see again and again as she read through the questionnaires she had given her students at Renaissance Academy High School in West Baltimore. (The School of Social Work's Promise Heights Initiative plays a large role at this school).
Another student wrote, “Some people see me as a threat.”
Another: “Society assumes we are animals. They think we are a negative lifeform and should be subtracted from society.”
When Yoder and her former college roommate Deanna Wardin, a San Francisco tattoo artist, decided to launch an art project at Renaissance last year, neither knew what to expect. They were sure only of this: The conversation about black youth in Baltimore needed to include their voices and reach beyond the city.
The result was an unusual collaboration between more than 50 artists from across the country and students at one of the most troubled schools in Baltimore. The project, Breaking Frames, which is now hanging at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center in downtown Baltimore, features original works based on the students’ words.