The group that did the best job uniting form and function was CLR’D, a collective from Baltimore run by four young women. “CLR’D Collective strives to bring people of color’s experience to the forefront,” says Amani Lewis, co-founder of the collective. “The diversity CLR’D collective wants to see in the art scene in Baltimore is the diversity we want to be.”
Murjoni Merriweather created stunning ceramic sculptures of men and women with African American hairstyles. Some don jewelry also made from the collective, and most of the heads tilt their chins to meet your gaze. Their back wall featured two digital paintings made by Amani, each bright and glaring, with beautiful portraits eclipsing most of the frame.
In neon text that resembles a restaurant window sign, the words “DON’T SHOOT!!” lie beneath the neck. The spectacle of skill, from the largeness of these ceramic faces (physically and metaphorically) to the tiny details of the jewelry, speaks loudly on its own, but feels especially calling in the context of their mission.
“We not only want to make art around our communities’ voices and put them in shows for people to talk about, but we also want our communities to be participants in the creation of these works. We want them to feel like they are a part of something larger, something that will be a direct change/experience that they will never forget,” says Amani.
As a whole, this year’s Artist-Run Art Fair, housed in the Charles Street Garage, communicates Amani’s message: “We want our communities to know that who they are and what they have to say is important.”