B’More classes occur during the last week of intersession, and are only open for freshman to enroll in. These are classes that cultivate a new awareness of Baltimore, in all different senses. There are a variety of B’More classes. This year there were B’more classes about urban planning, homelessness, the environment, photography, among others. I, trying to channel the artistic creativity of my past high school art classes, decided to take the photography class. Not only did I learn about the basics of photography, but also so much more about different parts of the city. There was no pressure even though I did not know anything before hand about photography or even how to frame a good photograph. All B’More classes are one credit and pass/fail. That way I could learn something without worrying about how well I would end up doing it, which is good since a lot of my photography, especially in the beginning, either came out completely over or underexposed. Together they look like a flat checker board with either too wide or too thing of squares. Either way, by the end of the week I learned so much about Baltimore… Here are some places I found to explore:
Many prominent citizens of Baltimore’s past, including the Johns Hopkins himself are buried here. The cemetery, as Howard (our professor) put it, is really a sculpture garden. These grand monuments are built to reflect the prominence of families or individuals in their lives. It’s their last attempt at making their wealth visible. And it is there forever. It is a somewhat creepy but beautiful place. It is also close to the Arts District of Baltimore, centered around North Avenue. Close by, beyond the stone and chain-link fence, many studios and murals are clumped together as the artistic spaces of Baltimore, which also includes places like the communist coffee and book shop Red Emma’s, The Windup Space, and the new Johns Hopkins Film School that was made in conjunction with MICA.
Fort McHenry and Federal Hill
Federal Hill is usually known for its great view of downtown, but I got most of my interesting shots at the American Visionary Art Museum, right down the hillside. The texture of its outside pieces reflect off their environment in unique ways and are very thought provoking because of that. It was also because of the museum that I was very late for the bus. Whoops! Federal Hill also has a great park for anyone with little brothers and sisters… or anyone who just really likes swings no matter what age. Fort McHenry is a place of historical importance since it is the birthplace of the national anthem. However, for me, It’s natural beauty could not be missed. It has a great view of the water, the contrast of nature and man with the artificial hillsides of the fort and beautiful little flowers and auburn grass. These are both definitely places that feel a little less “city-like” where there is a bit more room to see the beauty of Baltimore, just by taking a step back and seeing the big picture.
In Mount Vernon we explored the Peabody Library and the Walters Museum. The Peabody is an exquisite building, with beautiful, ornate architecture, done on a grand scale. Also the lighting in there is very interesting. There is this mix of blue light coming from the all glass ceiling and the old yellow lamps of the library. It was interesting to test out different white balance settings in such a space. It’s also quite peaceful in there. It is quiet and serene. The Walters is unlike most art museums in Baltimore in that it focuses mostly on are of the past, with works from all around the globe, from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Europe, the Middle East, and even places like Nepal.
Fells Point is the most well preserved part of historic Baltimore. Many of the buildings and homes there are centuries old. It is a popular place to shop around and eat, with a great mix of eclectic boutiques, oyster bars, taverns, bakeries, and gelato spots. Here, as in most locations, I focused more on the close up beauty of things, somewhat taken out of their larger context, whether it was the shadow of lights and hats in a hat shop, stringed up pieces of mirror and glass hanging from a shop sign, or a stained glass light from underneath. The cobblestone streets and just oldness of this part of town is an oddity for Baltimore, and it is a great place to visit to see a mix of the old and the new.