Students participating in an arts and social justice fellowship sponsored by Strathmore and the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co. of Washington, D.C., will debut their work Sunday during the Inaugural Student Project Showcase at AMP by Strathmore in North Bethesda.
During the 4 p.m. event, audience members will see two short plays, musical and multimedia performances and a poetry reading before viewing five visual arts installations that include paintings, comics and a mosaic, according to Lauren Campbell, Strathmore’s Vice President of Education and Community Engagement. There will be a reception afterwards.
The fellowship provided support for eight high school students to further develop their analysis around social justice and systems change, according to Strathmore’s website. It aims to identify the next generation of artists whose activism reflects insights on gender, race and the future of human civilization.
The program recruited fellows through schools, youth development organizations and social media, according to Campbell. Each student submitted an application describing their artistic practice and interest in social justice.
Fellow Emily Liu said the group of students met biweekly beginning in February, with one in-person meeting and the rest held over Zoom. Poets Amoja Sumler, Kita Marshall and Amin Drew Law served as program facilitators and led discussions.
Liu, a junior at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, plays the violin in Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra’s chamber ensemble. She’s also on the executive board of the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association.
Through the fellowship, Liu was able to combine her passions for music and advocacy.
“My worlds felt very separate,” she said. “This fellowship was a great opportunity to get a chance to mesh both of those worlds together.”
On Sunday, Liu will present a multimedia project involving visual art, music and audio. She drew inspiration from a concert that she attended where an orchestra combined audio with music and decided to incorporate social justice into her work with music as a result.
Her work contains themes of social justice and community, she said.
“It’s something that I emphasize throughout my work because it’s so important,” Liu said.
Dani Klein, a sophomore at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, is another fellow in the program. One of the works she’ll have on display at Sunday’s event is a pamphlet focusing on how photography and social justice influence each other, she wrote in an email.
Klein loves and feels comfortable with the medium of photography, she wrote, and the pamphlet focuses on social justice in a historical sense, which she said she feels drawn to.
Klein wrote that she likes to use color as well as a lack of color to her advantage in her work, and that all of her art can be interpreted and applied in multiple ways.
In addition to the pamphlet, Klein will also present a mosaic on the issue of human rights violations at the Southern border. After doing research, she found there were 1.8 million refugees expelled under a specific provision of U.S. health law at the start of the pandemic, so she used each piece to represent 1,000 refugees for a total of 18,000 pieces in her mural.
The pieces are small beads of different shapes and sizes. Together, they create an image representing the Southern border crisis, family separations and expulsions of asylum seekers, Klein wrote.
“I am excited to share the visual art and the meaning behind it to try to spread the word about this issue that is not talked about nearly enough,” Klein wrote.
The showcase is free and open to the public.