Volume 13, Issue 34 ~ August 25 - 31, 2005

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On Exhibit

Reflections of Troubled Teens
A portal into the good, the bad and the future
by Carrie Steele

To see the world through another’s eyes is the gift art presents us. In Insights: The Identity Project, 20 teens — all recovering in the Anne Arundel County Juvenile Drug Court program VisionWorkshops — capture themselves on film and in words, creating new, positive self-images.

The black-and-white self-portraits lining the gallery space, accompanied by short essay paragraphs, are portals into the artists’ inner lives. Gallery director Christina Manucy has borrowed quotes from the students and printed them across the top of the walls. “There was a battle between the opposing sides of my consciousness,” one reads.

“It may look like a shelf of empty bottles, but it shows change,” explained Jeremy S. of his portrait, which he shoots symbolically as a bookcase with one shelf of alcohol bottles lined up, their glass necks a cityscape hovering over the shelf with two sets of boxing gloves. On top of the bookcase is an old tennis racket.

Here is a gallery-full of stories: teens who’ve lost parents, been abandoned, found friends with worse problems than their own.

They struggle with faith, family, fears and hopes.

Will H.’s three-panel series pictures him in a black hat: first is his face and shoulders from upside down, then a close-up, finally an image of him walking in a grassy neighborhood. “A good day for me includes no police at the house, getting along with my mom and watching a movie,” he writes.

Glints of hope shine out from the cave of trouble.

Will H. continues, “I am a distant son, a man, a convict and a cousin, I am charitable, smart, strong and talented. I’m happiest when I’m on the good side of people and they think I’m a good person.”

The young artists offer insights for your life, too.

“The girl in the picture is running because she’s too afraid of pictures,” writes Zac F., whose blue-ribbon photo of a girl is full of motion as she walks through a blurred kitchen. “I say, just let pictures be taken of you … everyone else already has a camera’s perspective on you. … They just don’t save what they see.”

Insights: Identity Project at Maryland Hall on exhibit thru Sept. 9. 9am-5pm MTuWF; 9am-8:30pm Th; 9am-3pm Sa @ Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis: 410-263-5544.

Take Your Own Roots Journey
by M.L. Faunce
“Without oral history, I don’t think the story of Roots could have gone anywhere,” says Chris Haley of the saga documented by his uncle, Alex Haley. The elder Haley’s Roots journey turned the nation — and especially African Americans — onto genealogy.

“Listening to his grandmother, Cynthia, is where he heard the words Annapolis and African and the guitar called ko. Those were the words that stuck with him,” continued Chris Haley, who works at the Maryland State Archives as director of Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland. “So the first thing any good genealogist needs to do is talk to those older folks in their family, or talk to the busybody and call them on it, because they know what everybody does. Ask them what they know.”

Haley was the first lecturer in an on-going series of African American Genealogical workshops organized by the Kunte Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation. He recommends oral historians take “a tape recorder, pencil and paper and take it all down.”

Workshops continue August 27 and September 14 and 24 from 9am to 3:30pm at the West County Public Library in Odenton, which has a new computer lab and genealogical databases. $70 includes lunch and refreshments (personal consultations $30 more): 410 841-6920.

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