B.L.A.C.K Excel brings outdoor art classes to Robinwood, Eastport

Three girls throw a peace sign in the air and freeze in a pose, watching as art teacher Mary Rosoff quickly outlines their shadows on the ground in yellow chalk.

The squiggly figures will soon be filled in with a fresh coat of black paint that pops against the rainbow backdrop painted by kids a week prior as part of a new art class held every Wednesday behind Robinwood Community Center.

The beige concrete in the back of the community center now resembles a cheery rainbow wheel that sets the stage for the outdoor classroom run by Maryland Hall teachers. ArtReach, an outreach initiative through Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, brings art programs to local communities, so residents don’t have to find transportation to art centers. Art teachers started two pilot outdoor classrooms in Eastport and Robinwood in October.

Rosoff, a longtime art teacher with Maryland Hall and ArtFarm, and Scott Clarke, an art teacher at Anne Arundel Community College who taught art classes at nursing homes through ArtReach, guide a handful of kids through the painting activity.

The idea for outdoor classrooms was born out of conversations that Laura Brino, outreach coordinator at Maryland Hall, had with The Youth Collaborative, a collection of youth-serving nonprofits in the Annapolis area, Brino said.

“At that point, Maryland Hall partnered with Deonte Ward from B.L.A.C.K. Excel, Ken Starkes from Community Transitions, Erin Snell from Charting Careers, Ted Berkinshaw from Annapolis Maritime Museum and Jane Lawrence from Seeds for Success to set up site visits and see what community residents wanted,” Brino said. “We started with these two HACA properties. Once we had their input, we

installed the classroom spaces over a weekend with the help of the community.”

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