At the Intersection of Art, Motherhood, and Entrepreneurship: Greenmount Tile

Published in Studio Potter
July 2020

Speaking on the phone with GREENMOUNT TILE, LLC founder, Dominique Hellgeth, I can hear her daughter Ina offering her mud pies in the background. Ina's question intersects perfectly as Hellgeth shares the origins of Greenmount Tile, a business that combines ceramics, technology, and design to create tile for architectural purposes. Pregnant with her second child, Hellgeth, launched her company in the 2018 cohort of the entrepreneurial training program MOMS AS ENTREPRENEURS. A Baltimore-based nonprofit providing entrepreneurial training, financial education, and the support of a mom-entrepreneur community, Moms as Entrepreneurs helps moms start sustainable businesses, and this is where Greenmount Tile built its foundation.

Does Outreach Equal Equity? Thoughts on the Impact and Challenges of Off-site Community Programs and the Struggle to Use the Arts in Achieving Social Justice

In E. Garber, L. Hochtritt, & M. Sharma (Eds.), Makers, crafters, educators: Working for cultural change. New York, NY: Routledge, 2018.

In this reflection I consider “community/outreach” programs of arts non-profits that work primarily in economically sabotaged communities with populations that do not mirror the people they serve in their on-site programming. I prefer the term community (without qualifiers), for if we are really building community through programs outside our studio doors then we are building relationships and breaking down silos—a civic responsibility for a more equitable society. Making connections across difference ideally moves us toward challenging and changing ourselves. As we change, it becomes more possible to change the institutions and structures in which we exist that have been built on a history of white supremacy and the oppression of people of color.

Sallah Jenkins: Mother, Artist, Creator

Published in Studio Potter
Vol. 45 No. 1 Winter/Spring 2017, p 59-60.

I first started creating and doing art because I was a mother of eight. I never understood the term “starving artist” because I took care of eight children by making with my hands. —Sallah Jenkins

Sallah Jenkins has been working, making, and teaching in Baltimore communities for decades. Engaging in creative work was crucial to building her life there. She has dedicated thirty years to raising children and supporting her family through the many creative opportunities that Baltimore offers. She has taken part in ArtScape, the largest free outdoor arts festival in the country, taught in schools and after-school programs, worked in museums, and even at the Baltimore Zoo. Through her work, she not only earned money to support her children but also paid homage to her heritage as an African American. At the zoo, she painted huts according to a South African tradition in which the elders of the young women doing the painting followed behind them to touch up anything that needed fixing—an authentic community effort that ensured success. Jenkins proudly recollects, “I had my mom there with me, following along and touching up all I did. I was able to create an African experience for the people of Baltimore.”

Americorps at Baltimore Clayworks co-written with Laura Cohen

Published in Ceramics Technical
No. 37 2013

Making art with community creates opportunities for artists and community members to develop voice and to overcome assumptions and intolerances through shared art-making experiences. As they build with clay, they synonymously build new relationships and new perceptions.

Since 2004 Baltimore Clayworks has partnered with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and AmeriCorps to host a Community Artist in Residence to work on site and in community. The Community Art Collaborative (CAC) is an AmeriCorps State program that links together artists, communities, non-profits and institutions of higher education to create projects and programs that use art as a vehicle to initiate community change. AmeriCorps artists at Baltimore Clayworks receive hands-on experience in multiple aspects of ceramics based community arts programming while also benefitting from the connection to MICA, an institution dedicated to the education of professional artists and designers.

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Space in Community: 

An examination of the community artist’s role in the transformation of green space

The way local organizations determine and support the use and upkeep of public and private green space has a profound effect on how community residents will view the organization, act in these spaces; and whether or not the community feels empowered or repressed by the organization. The transformation of “neglected land” into green/community space is an important investment for local organizations to make in the communities they serve. Community artists can be a key ingredient in establishing successful community spaces as well as reciprocal, lasting relationships between residents and organizations.

The file for this paper is too large to include here, feel free to contact me if you would like to read more.

I WILL: a response to Fire in the Belly, night 3 September 27, 2008

I WILL.  I HAVE. I DO. I STRIVE.  These are the words burned into my mind after a night at the Creative Alliance for the final performances of Fire in the Belly, a weekend of presentations surrounding the Black Arts Movement & Arts/Activism + Race in Baltimore.  The night began with a phone call to Marshall Eddie Conway, former Black Panther Party member, imprisoned for the last 37 years and currently incarcerated at Hagerstown.  

The Dialogical Art of Community Arts

What is community art? It is what happens when an artist leaves her studio to engage collaboratively with others to promote social change. The most important byproduct of this process is to create meaningful and direct communication between groups of individuals. One way a community artist does this is to disrupt the patterns of people's everyday lives, creating places in everyday spaces where conversation can begin. Sometimes this requires a spectacle. Examples: two artists sitting in an ATM lobby serving tea and offering conversation and an artist painting banners in a community garden lot in Southwest Baltimore. By creating dialogue there is a greater chance for connecting with each other's humanity, building understanding, and creating a focus on inclusive problem solving.

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Nothing Goes Over, Nothing Comes In: 
The One Way Gaze of American Media

In America, we have the dehabilitating privilege of being able to experience the world through the lens of the media, without actually being a part of it. This occurs because Americans as viewers are never faced by the reality of what they view. Think about billboards, magazines and the evening news; in all of these forms of media, the viewer is confronted with an image-person whose gaze is directed back at them, but who is not seeing them. The “other” in this context denotes any person outside of the viewer’s self. The viewer first sees the other as an object, but is then able to identify a man or a woman when the gaze is returned. The requited gaze also allows the viewer to recognize the self. When there is no gaze or the gaze is not penetrating, none of these recognitions occur. How does the viewer react to this experience? Has the gaze ceased to function? In America, the viewer is bombarded with an image-other. Through images, an illusion of a reciprocal gaze is given. The media (those in control of what we see and hear in newspapers, television, radio, etc.) is the creator of this illusion-gaze. By producing something that gives the appearance of confronting the viewer, the media also begins to shape the viewer’s reality. 

Nowhere is Now Here: 
The Displacement of Place in American Culture Industry

“Starbucks, now that’s a nice place,” I overheard a woman say.  I wondered what she meant by this.  Can Starbucks be considered a “place”?  There are countless Starbucks locations across the country as well as abroad.  A place should be defined by its location – its position within an environment – a definition that is becoming outmoded.  The introduction of chain stores such as Starbucks is corroding the idea and significance of place.  The notion of a here and now are losing meaning.  A Starbucks is here and also there – in essence, everywhere.  The growth of corporations and corporate identities is creating an alternate reality in America.  Space is becoming a picture perfect replica, an image of commodity.  By reproducing identical spaces (places) corporate interests are mediating experience and reality in America.  The image of Starbucks enables people to believe they are living in the world when in fact that world only alludes to reality.