Baltimore Joins JR’s Inside Out Project With #BlackLivesMatter Street Art

It's a timely message for Baltimore residents.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.
A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

Baltimore students have taken over the facade of a local building with a group of portraits and the message #BlackLivesMatter, as part of French street artist JR’s ongoing Inside Out project, according to the Huffington Post.

The project began in 2011 after JR won the TED prize, and has seen close to 200,000 people create their own versions of the artist’s signature large-format wheat paste portraits worldwide.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR’s ongoing Inside Out project.
Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

“I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project,” the artist wrote in a call to action on his website. “And together, we’ll turn the world inside out.”

Students at Morgan State University have been planning their contribution to the project for over a year, selecting the #BlackLivesMatter theme last spring.

The installation details were just being finalized in April when Baltimore erupted into protests over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died while in police custody.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR’s ongoing Inside Out project.
Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

“That made everyone realize how important the concept really was,” Kelli Williams, the lead artist for the project and a recent Morgan graduate, told Baltimore Magazine.

The photos show a number of young black men and women standing in the shadow of a chain link fence, meant to “symbolize the barriers African-Americans encounter in everyday life,” professor Christopher Metzger, the project organizer, told Baltimore Magazine.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR’s ongoing Inside Out project.
Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

Installation for the mural began last week, coincidentally on the same day that 21-year-old Dylann Roof carried out a terrorist attack on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine black parishioners.

The tragic timing serves to underscore the importance of the mural’s message, which resonates across a country still reeling from the death of Gray, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and far too many other unarmed black men (and women).

The students worked in a studio to shoot the portraits, often using each other as subjects, and then produced large-format prints for the site, which is a planned art incubator space called Open Works.

The 34,000-square-foot space is slated to open next fall.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR’s ongoing Inside Out project.
Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR’s ongoing Inside Out project.
Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR's ongoing Inside Out project. Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.

A #BlackLivesMatter public art piece from Morgan State University students, created as part of JR’s ongoing Inside Out project.
Photo: Christopher Metzger and Kelli Williams.


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