Each week, adult artists with disabilities flock to Make Studio in Hampden to develop their skills, try new techniques and connect with other artists. For many of them it is a calm time to delve into their professional artistry, a time they don’t usually have anywhere else.
“It’s a nice environment for me,” said Bess Lumsden, one of the studio’s artists. “When I’m here, I don’t feel pressured to change anything.”
This past Friday, however, was a special one – Maryland’s first lady, Yumi Hogan, came to the Hampden studio to meet the artists and see their work.
“First, I am an artist,” Hogan said. “I want to be involved and help with the arts community.”
After the artists presented their work to local artists, MICA interns, Make Studio staff and Hogan, there was a studio tour and time for meeting with the artists. Hogan took the time to talk with each one, asking about their work and praising or commenting on various aspects of it.
“Here, we want to create intentional opportunities for art-making, art appreciation and social connection,” said Cathy Goucher, director of artist services and outreach coordinator at the studio. “We support them and shepherd them into the community.”
At the studio, the artists said they feel free to create what and how they want.
“It’s easy to express yourself here,” said Erika Clark, who has been an artist with Make Studio since 2012. Chuck Fischer, who joined the studio in 2013, said he wished he had known about the studio sooner.
For Hogan, the Baltimore art community is no stranger – as a MICA graduate and longtime MICA adjunct professor, supporting Maryland artists is one of her philanthropical focuses.
Hogan said she frequently visits studios and galleries across the state and meets artists whenever she gets the chance.
Outside of Baltimore, Hogan has taught traditional painting to cancer patients and their families at the Wellness House of Annapolis. Supporting cancer patients has more recently become an interest of hers since her husband’s diagnosis, she said.
“I’ve met so many people, and their story is my story,” Hogan said. “When I teach [cancer patients], they forget about time, they’re so happy.”
A strong believer in the healing power of art, Hogan said she hopes to teach more classes and be more involved with Make Studio.
“We hear from them, and their personal story is so important. They’re healing,” Hogan said, echoing the artists’ statements of appreciation for Make Studio. “They come here, they have friends, a good space, and they’re happy.”
She also plans to advocate for more arts programs in Maryland schools and to create opportunities for younger children to showcase their artwork. Hogan has been a member of the Maryland Federation of Art since 2008.
“We hope for and welcome her continued involvement with the studio,” Goucher said. “We know she’s very passionate about artists as a vibrant part of the economy as well as the importance of art to the community.”
While Make Studio hasn’t been much involved with the governor’s office before, they have received grants from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and worked with the Maryland Department of Disabilities. Many of the artists in the studio were happy to discuss their work with the first lady, however.
“As an artist, I try to help with my talent,” Hogan said. “My goal is always to be involved with the arts community.”