Media Experiment: Is art a tool of gentrification?

Viewing the art morals of Baltimore as a source of capitalism

A while ago, some of my Applied Anthropology classmates and I did some participation observation in Greenmount West. My classmates and I were stunt at the craftsmanship of the morals in the area but we had our suspicions. We feared that the morals were being used as a place maker of territory by the local universities or they were utilizing the land without any input from the local residence. When I got home I did some research and now I have a hard time believing these fears are true.

These morals are created under a project entitled Open Walls Baltimore. According to the Open Walls Baltimore webpage, the mission of the project is to “enlivens public spaces, stimulates community revitalization and national dialogue, and attracts visitors and investors to Station North.” In the Washington Post article entitled Open Walls tags Baltimore’s Station North district as an ‘it’ neighborhood, they question the curator of the project, Gaia, about the morals gentrifying the neighborhoods. Gaia disagreed with this accusation. He stated, “Artists don’t gentrify neighborhoods. They don’t have the capacity and/or the money and/or the capital and/or anything but we’re used as a tool.” I believe that Gaia did not curate this project to gentrify the neighborhood and make bank. I have met him in person and I am certain he is too humble of a person to do so. In addition, I don’t believe that other well respected Baltimorean moral artists, such as Ernest Shaw, would agree to collaborate with Open Walls if the project was gentrifying Baltimore.

My statement may be influence by my bias’s because I met and have work with Gaia in the past but I honestly believe that his goal with Open Wall Baltimore was to bring quality artwork to a community he deeply admires and calls home.

Below are images I took while conducting participate observation.