Our Words Will Be Heard

April 18 - May 21, 2018
Modell-Lyric Theater

At a time when people are being silenced, the arts provide an opportunity to speak out. It is only through the rising up of all voices that true equilibrium and harmony can be achieved.

This exhibition, asked artists to create or submit pieces of artwork that express why speaking up and being heard is important, as well as sharing artists' own stories related to being silenced and rising up against that silencing. 

Planned in conjunction with Rising Up a pilot education program for middle school students at the Modell-Lyric theater the exhibition opening coincided with a night of student performances. The program asked Baltimore middle school students to create their own lyric narratives that told personal stories and expressed their perspectives on life. The program, led by Modell-Lyric theater Director of Education, Denise Kumani Gantt, was inspired by the following quote that was also the inspiration for the title of the concurrent visual arts exhibition.

When we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive 

~from a Litany for Survival, Audre Lorde

Featured Artists:

Born in Detroit, Christopher Batten began his undergraduate training at the Columbus College of Art and Design, and later completed his training at Detroit's College for Creative Studies where he earned a BFA in Illustration in 2006. In 2017, Christopher graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art's LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting MFA program, where he received a Hoffberger Merit Scholarship, the Dr. Leslie King Hammond Graduate Award, and two AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships. While at MICA, Batten also served as a Graduate Program Assistant to Joan Waltemath, Hoffberger School Director. His artwork has been exhibited in cities such as Detroit, New York, San Antonio, Baltimore, and Atlanta. Subsequently, Batten's works have appeared at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History as well as the Red Bull House of Art Detroit. Aside from being a studio artist, Batten is an art educator and muralist.

Artist Statement: This is the third in a series of paintings that examine the awkward and uncomfortable role racism plays in African American life. This painting of my teenage nephew examines the awareness of racism being a fact of African American life that is adopted around the time we enter our teens.

The Quandary #3

Aiden Dillard is a hobbyist Butterfly Painter and hardworking truck driver based in New York City who studied at The Cooper Union. Following the personal loss of a romantic partner through suicide, Aiden retired from silly B-movie filmmaking in 2014 and turned to the more solitary & spiritual medium of Butterfly Painting as a creative outlet to maintain mental health and creativity, and to make the big bold statements about life, love, change, & metamorphosis that only the butterfly knows.

Artist Statement: I created these paintings amidst the loneliness of coping with a loved one’s suicide.

Ultimately,we hear things because we cannot see everything.

There is a wonderful expression in Persian, war nam nihadan, which means "to murder somebody, bury his body, then grow flowers over the body to conceal it.

Oasa DuVerney is a Brooklyn-based artist and mother. Selected exhibitions, residencies and media include: The Window and the Breaking of the Window, Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC (2017); The Brooklyn Biennial II, BRIC, Brooklyn, NY (2016); Through A Glass Darkly, Postmasters Gallery, NYC (2012); Rush Philanthropic Foundation Artist Residency (2016), Smack Mellon Studio Artist Residency (2014-2015); LMCC Workspace Residency (2012-2013); Brooklyn Foundation Grant (2016); The Independent, UK (2016), Hyperallergic (2015, 2016), The Guardian,UK (2015), Palestine News Network (2013), and The New York Times (2012, 2011). DuVerney received her B.F.A. from SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology, and her M.F.A. from Hunter College, CUNY.

Artist Statement: The View From Nowhere depicts people with screens drawn over them. In this pair, to the right is Diamond Reynolds, the woman who live streamed the aftermath of her boyfriend, Philando Castillo, being shot and killed by the police in Minnesota and to the left, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who had imprisoned himself in the Ecuadorian embassy in England. I thought that they were a good match, they were both people who used technology and social media to share an already known truth, to present facts about things that we already know within ourselves or we suspect to be the truth. They are both heroic in that way, but also they’re misunderstood. The View From Nowhere represents this idea of both the marginalized and the privileged. When you are nowhere, nowhere meaning on the margins or excluded from what is acceptable in society, then your view is from nowhere.

The View From Nowhere: Diamond Reynolds and Julian Assange


FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is a creative activist collaboration to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent. FORCE designs communications campaigns to generate media attention and get millions of people talking.  Nationally known for producing large-scale public art projects, FORCE believes that a more difficult and honest conversation needs to happen in America to face the realities of sexual violence, and envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent.

The Monument Quilt, organized by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, is an on-going collection of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. Written, stitched, and painted onto red fabric, our stories are displayed in city and town centers to create and demand public space to heal. The quilt resists the popular and narrow narrative of how sexual violence occurs by telling many stories, not one. The quilt builds a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.

In summer 2017, Gloria Garret led Monument Quilt workshops with seven different community centers, focused on African American elders in Baltimore, to facilitate conversations about surviving sexual and domestic violence. Gloria Garrett is know as the Mother of Makeup Art. She truly believes that sharing your story through art can heal.

The Monument Quilt squares created by 50 people throughout the city were displayed at the Rita Church Community Center. Gloria, in partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation, led these workshops at Abundant Life Towers; Bolton North Apartments; Cherry Hill Seniors; Greater New Hope Towers; Pleasant View Gardens; Rita Church Community Center; and Waters Towers. This square is one of 12 that Gloria facilitated the creation of in summer 2017.

The Monument Quilt


Shana R. Goetsch's art frequently involves themes of social justice, empowerment, love, loss and bereavement; she began painting in 1989 after witnessing the murder of her mother. Often using words, cultural references or found objects, she injects personal voice, history and memory into her pieces. Originally from southeastern Wisconsin, Goetsch's work has appeared in numerous exhibitions throughout Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, New York, Washington D.C. and British Columbia, Canada. She received her MFA and MA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and her BFA in Painting, with a minor in Printmaking from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD).

Goetsch has served as a confidential advocate of survivors and witnesses for two domestic violence centers; Sojourner Family Peace Center (in conjunction with the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office), and The House Of Ruth Maryland, where she completed a year-long, community artist residency through AmeriCorps.

Shana received her Level-1 Certified Trauma Practitioner (CTP) distinction through the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children in May of 2017. She is also the founding director of a local, non-profit arts incubator, The Feminist Art Project - Baltimore, where she continues to use art as a vehicle for awareness, healing and advocacy. 

Artist Statement: http://www.thepixelproject.net/2010/10/26/survivor-story-my-love-is-more-powerful-than-violence/

My Love is Stronger Than Your Violence


Halton grew up in a family of artists, including her maternal grandparents and her mother. She remembers her early art making as both a refuge and a way to make sense of the emotional vagaries of family life. At Kenyon College she majored in art and religion, and while there she encountered the work of the French artist Jean Dubuffet. He was a seminal discovery for her, for his ability to access the dark side of inner life, and for his direct use of raw materiality. After college, Halton moved back to the East Coast, and began her teaching career. After a period of independent work, she studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she received an MFA in 1985.

She has shown her work extensively, including exhibitions at the Orange County Museum of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Clayworks in Baltimore, OK Harris Works of Art, New York, Gallery K, Washington, D.C., Malton Gallery, Cleveland and Gomez Gallery, Baltimore. Halton’s work is in the collections of the U.S. State Department and Kenyon College, and in numerous private collections.

Artist Statement: We don’t necessarily need to see the words, or even hear specifically what is being said, to understand that humanity is being expressed. I believe in the power of a communion of voices and that the message will need to be repeated over and over. Mrs. White is the prototype for a series of silenced women. Like the Pushovers, there will be a small army of them! 


My name is Susan Harmon. I was born and lived much of my life in Chicago. I hold a BFA in painting from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and another BFA in graphic design from The University of Illinois. I received my MFA in painting from Georgia Southern University and I also spent one year working on a PHD in Studio Art at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. I am working on my PHD in Art and Aesthetics at Texas Tech University.

Artist Statement: My oldest son died of opiate overdose. He was 31. He was misunderstood, an artist, and a writer. Stories about people who suffer trauma and their hope to survival is what is the catalyst for me creating these artworks. I now live near Austin and many of the artworks are informed by the stories of girls trying to cross from Honduras to Mexico to Austin. The Daughters of Juarez, the same sky... are only a few of the stories informing my art. I am Jewish and many of my stories are informed by stories of The Holocaust. I could go on, but I have some romantic notion that like Tolstoy felt..as if ..by osmosis... my hands touching my canvas somehow transfers my emotion upon that canvas and thus to  the viewer...I am not good with words.... but I love them and my studio walls are covered with them. I read and read and write the words from the stories... large and small untill  I am ready to access my subconscious and am ready to pour the emotion, I now feel onto those canvases...the process is almost sacred...it is everything... Sometimes the pictures come easily  but more often not... Sometimes it seems like I am in a trance when I begin to create these large canvases... I may not even hear anyone around me I am so absorbed... I want to access my subconscious... a difficult task... I paint with a fury... 

I’ve been a graphic artist for nineteen years running an independent design business named Zerflin. I have shown my artwork in over 150 locations and have long-running shows in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Nashville, and Baltimore. My work often uses themes of love, cultural understanding, and futurism to appeal to and inspire the imagination of diverse audiences.

I grew up among the Naskapi in Kawawachikamach in Northern Quebec. I witnessed the notions other people had about this marginalized, indigenous community; and how those perceptions influenced the way the Naskapi people were treated. The disadvantages the community bore were directly related to how well the Naskapi people were understood by people from outside of the community. Once an outsider took the time to begin to understand the Naskapi people, their judgment would begin to soften.

I learned the power that stories and imagery have to create spaces for open-minded communication and understanding. I have carried this understanding with me throughout my life; and have put this practice into action by using art as a gateway for open-minded communication about marginalized cultures.

The most important function of my artwork lives in the conversations that are inspired by my pieces. I use my art as the launching point to have conversations, both positive and negative, when I give an artist’s talk and every time. Creating these spaces on and offline where understanding can be cultivated is my life’s mission.

Samuel Leroy Jackson

Margaret Mead

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey Douglass


My name is Shamarah Jones and I am in grade 6. I was born an artist. I became part of the 4-H Program when my mom entered my art projects into the 17th Annual Baltimore City 4-H Youth Expo, held on the Baltimore City Community College campus. I was so excited to be a part of the Baltimore City 4H Youth Expo, to have a chance to show my art skills to the community. Entering the Baltimore City 4-H Youth Expo, also offered me, an opportunity to compete in the 2017 Maryland State Fair.

I won 1st place with all three of my art projects. I entered my handmade doll, a self-portrait, and a graphic art photo. At the MD State Fair, I
 won 2nd place with my graphic art pictures, which was great because this was my first time entering the MD State Fair contest, and because there were a lot of other wonderful art projects and exhibits there.

I would like to give special thanks to my mom and dad for always encouraging me, teaching me, and sharing their childhood art experiences with me. My art skills were developed from practicing with my family and my art teachers from Jubilee Arts, St Francis Neighborhood Center, MICA, Girls Who Code, Clayworks and more.

Artist Statement: Speaking up is important because you want your voice to be heard. Being heard is important because it shows you have confidence. Being silence is not the way to live. Because you may have great ideas. Rising up against silence will show your ambition over fear. I am committed to not being silence ever with my soft tone voice.

Speak Up!



My name is definatly Giovanni Lawrence and I just want the world to know that I love you. I know everything isn't perfect and that's ok. My only advice: learn from your mistakes, respect the fact that time will heal everything, and remember it is not ok to wear white shoes after labor day. Born and raised in Baltimore, I call this place my home but I have a love/hate relationship with my city. I graduated from Morgan State in 2010 with a degree in Marketing and since have owned my own business in photography and videography. I've also done a little U.S. traveling because I love the U.S. despite the current state of our people. Not all a bad thing but a challenging one. Since then, I've taken on a new opportunity to further myself. I have been an Industrial Engineering student at Morgan state for 2 years now and its a good pace for an interesting change. I hope to better the world by any tools nessasary so at the moment, I'm using and working on all of my cunning.

Artist Statement: A day before the uprising, I was invited by a friend to come out to druid hill park to photograph the dirt bikers we have in Baltimore. I know people in the city gripe about these kids and their loud, but fun machines. To be honest, it's better than a gun or drugs. I say, if these people or kids, have found something that they truly care about and it can be something mandated by the local government, then maybe this is an opportunity for the city to make a slight dent in the ever so rising murder rate. I enjoyed photographing them, I even got on a bike and I specifically told him "DO NOT do a wheelie". Clearly he did the wheelie and I was overjoyed.


A Baltimore studio and community artist, educator, community advocate and activist, Paula Phillips specializes in mixed-media paintings that embrace social justice issues. Her artwork, which reflects her European, Native American and African roots, has been exhibited along the eastern seaboard, primarily in the Baltimore-Washington area.

A professor of the MFA in Community Arts program of Maryland Institute College of Art, Phillips also has taught in many Baltimore City public and private schools, Anne Arundel Community College, served as Senior Director of the city-wide summer program SuperKids Camp, as well as an arts consultant, program developer and facilitator with various institutions and community organizations including Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Summer Learning, Black Cherry Puppet Theater, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The After School Institute, The Walters Art Museum Fun Festival, The Child First Authority, Baltimore City Career Academy, Bright Starts, and the Amazing Port Street Project.

Phillips earned her BAs through Huston-Tillotson College (‘71) and Texas Wesleyan University (‘94) and her MFA through MICA’s Hoffberger School of Painting (‘96).


Iandry Randriamandroso is a Muralist and a Graphic and Community Artist. He specializes in graphic and mixed media art-making that focuses on environmental and social subjects. He received a BFA from St. John's University (Queens, NY) and an MA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD). 

His goal is to create art that is inclusive and accessible to everyone. He uses his artworks as educational tools to facilitate inclusive and hands-on presentations, community arts workshops, art classes and mural projects in public and private venues around the US. 

Artist Statement: In this series of artworks, I used the printmaking technique and simplified images to express social/human issues such as racism and human trafficking our modern society is still facing today and to represent the goal of unity, peace, and love that we are strive to reach. 


Eric Rivera Barbeito was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1994 and received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2017. Integrating a multimedia approach to his practice, Rivera Barbeito taps into a diverse field of art-making processes to give visual representation to concepts centering around the present condition of his home country. Aside from making objects considered by some to be art, he enjoys meeting friendly dogs on the street, talking to his plants, and the occasional cold glass of coconut water.

Artist Statement:  On September 20th Hurricane María cut through the island of Puerto Rico. Its passing resulted in the total collapse of the island’s energy distribution infrastructure, the recovery of which has been plagued by inefficiency, delays, and political dissonance. To this day, a significant part of the population remains without reliable access to this essential resource, and has resulted in the longest blackout in modern United States history.

Months after Hurricane Maria's passing through the island of Puerto Rico, devastation remains a constant for many. The aftermath has exacerbated an incipient deterioration of the island’s infrastructure and government, and as result, the well-being of its residents, prompting a massive flight by many who seek a better standard of living in the continental United States. Those unable or reluctant to flee the abominable conditions face new challenges in an increasingly hostile environment. In the constant maelstrom of the present political scenery, Puerto Ricans, particularly those living in rural areas, have been forgotten, many left roofless or homeless, even now with little or no access to electricity, clean water and health services.

After centuries of colonial status, under Spain and currently as an unincorporated territory under the United States since Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Puerto Rico’s history is one largely directed by another. With no valid representation in U.S. Congress and no apparent change in sight, for the 3.4 million Puerto Ricans still in the island, a life without power takes more than one form.

As a researcher and an artist, I investigate aspects of production, agency, and power, drawing connections between the search for interpersonal resonance and the struggle to find it within a neoliberal system. I identify symbolic relationships between nature and productivity through site-specific performance, audio, video, FM transmission, writing, and collaborative projects. My research is made visible through My Presence is Productive, Inc., an institute designed to appropriate and investigate the integrity of corporate personhood, by enacting a generative system of engagement to depict the structural biases present in seemingly objective data and information. Artist Statement: There are many ways that we use our voices. But one of the most powerful ways is to do so in person. Our presence has a profound effect on those around us which is why I made this flag, which says MY PRESENCE IS PRODUCTIVE, to remind us how our mere presence can bring change forward. Sometimes it can seem like knowing the goal before acting is very important. But that is not always the case, sometimes it is enough to just be present and open to change.

My Presence is Productive, 3’ x 5’ double-sided polyester flag

Viewing Coinage at the Altes Museum, Berlin

Chris Wilson is a Washington D.C. native currently living in Baltimore, MD. He holds an A.A. in Sociology from Anne Arundel Community College and is currently pursuing a B.S in Business Administration as an Entrepreneurship Fellow at the University of Baltimore. Chris is a painter and mixed media artist as well as a grass-roots champion for the disadvantaged populations seeking economic opportunities. He is an advocate for education and criminal justice policy reform. His hope is to tell interesting stories, generate awareness to social justice issues and spark conversations through the art he creates.

Artist Statement: There are more than 80,000 men, women and children currently in solitary confinement in America. I have personally spent over one hundred days in solitary confinement - even as a juvenile. The United Nations recently categorized solitary confinement as torture. I created this piece in order to speak out for those 80,000 people. How can we expect people to successfully re-acclimate back into society if we are torturing our own people? As an artist, it is my responsibility to share this story through my art.

I was there... I watched them stand and watch our hood burn...

Solitary Confinement is Torture

Let it Burn...Just Protect the Harbor


Students from Rising Up, the Lyric education program, worked with artist Paula Phillips to create mono prints that were included in the visual arts exhibition.