Baltimore Love Project

The New Century School thinks Michael Owen and Scott Burkholder are what you might call “lovely” people. Together, these two are spreading (literally!) a message of community and social involvement across Baltimore City called the Baltimore Love Project. You may have received the memo without even realizing it. It comes in the form of a mural-sized silhouette of four disembodied hands spelling out L-O-V-E on the exterior walls of various city buildings. By the end of 2012, Baltimore neighborhoods will be graced with 20 such murals, ranging in size but all depicting the same striking image.

this large mural fronts a building on Broadway Ave.

Broadway Ave. mural in Baltimore

It makes you stop and think, this image. And that’s the whole point, according to Owen, the artist and project creator, and Burkholder, the Executive Director. “BLP is about helping people understand that public art matters and providing access to it. It’s a powerful platform for social change,” says Burkholder. To BLP, every street corner, city wall, and alleyway is a potential canvas, a canvas that should engage the community.

LOVE sticker spruces up a fire hydrant in Patterson Park

LOVE is everywhere!

“What might change,” asks Owen, if a powerful positive message was very publicly displayed for a city-wide audience? “What would people start to do differently?” What BPL wants is to instigate, to stir up some discussion. The art is, indeed, stirring, but it’s a very gentle confrontation. It’s certainly hard to be unaffected on some level by such a large, physical piece. It’s a challenge at its most basic level. “LOVE,” it simultaneously shouts and whispers–is it a command, or is it a request? Is it a dance? The work is deliberately minimal, says Owen. It’s a distillation–no details–so it speaks to all people, not any one particular group, yet it affects everyone a little differently. It’s a true democratizer.

TNCS, in sharing very similar values of community and democracy, has formed what promises to become a very fruitful partnership with BLP. “Schools have become a big part of the project,” says Owen. “It’s a natural fit.” Schools provide the ideal point of engagement with the larger community. Moreover, school-age kids fairly bubble over with what he calls “unreserved excitement” to talk and respond with “raw thoughts about elemental things.” Like love, for example.
Says Alicia Danyali, Head of TNCS , “The benefits of this partnership will not only allow the school to support community art projects, but will in turn enable us to develop educational opportunities for the entire TNCS community.”  In exchange for TNCS selling BLP merchandise (available for purchase at TNCS’s online store) for fundraising, BLP will create one of their murals in the school’s name as well as provide some on-site education and maybe even some inspiration. Students will attend an assembly on public art and how the theme of love is represented, the primary and elementary classes will work together to create a school mural, and there may be a visit to Owen’s studio in the works to get a first-hand look at the process.
TNCS and BLP are collaborating to make art and the social and cultural revolution it can inspire accessible to all. What’s not to love?

students pressed and painted hands for these stepping stones for TNCS front garden

TNCS students make hand art, too!

8 thoughts on “Baltimore Love Project

  1. I really enjoyed meeting Michael and Scott at the Pot Luck last month. They seem very dedicated to their very worthy cause!

  2. Hooray!!! Love the murals. Love seeing the stickers and shirts around town. Also love that Baltimore LOVE merch is available at New Century. I’ve had my eye on that necklace for months now…

  3. Proud to say children are being encouraged to embrace the meaning of Love in school and throughout the community through the efforts of The Baltimore Love Project

  4. What’s not to love about the BLP!? To quote our singing twins, “All you need is luv, luv, luv is all you need!”

  5. Hey folks, it’s your last chance to buy Baltimore Love items for holiday gifts. Choose from notecards, stickers (stocking stuffers!), jewelry, and tee shirts!

    Orders must be in by Tuesday, December 18, 2012. All items ordered will be sent home with your TNCS student before the 21st of December. Arrangements can also be made for non-TNCS families interested in purchasing from the school store! Order your items at:

  6. Pingback: Strengthening Friendships, Creating Art: TNCS Welcomes Back Baltimore Love Project | The New Century School Blog

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