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From worker-brc-news@lists.tao.ca Tue Jun 27 20:26:39 2000
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 13:17:49 -0400
From: Mike Alewitz <alewitzm@mail.ccsu.edu>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] Harriet Tubman: Armed and Dangerous
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Reprinted in AgitProp News, 17 June 2000.
Special Issue: Harriet Tubman: Armed and Dangerous

Statement by Baltimore Clayworks

Re. The Dreams of Harriet Tubman mural project, and specifically Moses, the mural sketch originally proposed for the side wall of Associated Black Charities

To Baltimore Clayworks' friends, members of the Board of Directors, Millennium Honorary Committee Members, interested members of the broader community, 14 June 14 2000

Baltimore Clayworks was chosen to receive an Artist and Communities grant from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation because the foundation's selection panel felt that Clayworks' history of involvement in bringing arts activities into underserved communities, and of connecting artists with community residents who have had little or no access to artmaking, embodied the goals of the national Artists and Communities initiative. Baltimore Clayworks' artistic leadership chose artist Mike Alewitz from a preselected pool of more than 100 visual artists for three reasons:

  • Alewitz' painting as represented in 10 slides of previous work, was of an extraordinary artistic quality
  • Alewitz has had a highly respected history, internationally, of interactive mural making with ethnically diverse community residents including youth, working people and elders who have had little or no access to the arts

Alewitz' themes of equality and social justice echoed Clayworks' values as it approaches communities for arts partnerships. It is important to understand that the discussion that the community is having about the image of an armed Harriet Tubman is simply a discussion about a proposed piece of public art, and whether an historically accurate image of Tubman as a leader of her people out of the land of bondage (Moses) should be displayed in light of contemporary public sensitivities about gun violence. There are no divisions along racial lines; there are opinions on both sides. The artist has prepared a statement concerning the mural and its content. Please request it for in-depth reference.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that there are four more murals planned for sites in Maryland, and hundreds of at-risk young people working in paint and clay to create elements to be included in the murals.

The leadership position of Baltimore Clayworks is this: Baltimore Clayworks stands true to its mission of artist- centeredness and support; we will not tell any artist what to create or what to change. We respect, however, the decision of any community organization or institution to decline partnership in any project or program we propose. We expect a level of passion and commitment to positive artist/community involvement from our partners.

John K. Smith, Chairman, Board of Trustees
Deborah Bedwell, Executive Director

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