When looking for a project on which to base the thesis for her M.F.A. in Curatorial Practice, Yvonne Hardy Phillips, a Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) student, didn’t have to gaze far beyond the stoop at her former home on the corner of Harford Avenue and Biddle Street.
Hardy Phillips, who owns the property in the heart of East Baltimore, and the building next door — where her mother once ran a café — saw the potential for these buildings to represent Baltimore’s on-going cultural renaissance. And so, the You Are Here project was born.
You Are Here is a socially engaged public art project in which two muralists and works by five artists transform the exterior wall surfaces of two buildings by using images based on East Baltimore’s history.
These murals serve as visual expressions of the resilience of the community and self-determination of its residents. The opening event featured MICA alumna Joyce J. Scott (Art Education B.F.A.), who was recently named a 2016 Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and mural artist, Gaia (Interdisciplinary Sculpture B.F.A.).
Hardy Phillips credits MICA for awakening her long-held passion for using art as a means to impact social change.
The project’s ultimate objective is to foster the development and historic recognition of the Oliver community through creative interventions. Through art, she hopes the community will be designated a Baltimore City Heritage Area. “This project is a way to physically map the rich cultural story of ‘historic’ central East Baltimore through portrait photography, oral interviews, and site-specific public art,” Hardy Phillips said. "The work here creates cultural signposts that herald a community on the rise again — phoenix-like — in beauty and truth.”