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FEATURED MOVER | Sheri Parks, Md. Institute College of the Arts

Sheri Parks has been appointed vice president of strategic initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art, effective June 1.

Parks succeeds longtime MICA vice president Mike Molla, who will become president of the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster.

Parks comes to MICA from the University of Maryland, College Park where she was the inaugural associate dean for research, interdisciplinary scholarship and programming for the College of Arts and Humanities. Through her position, she helped raise the profile of the college in the nation, as well as its levels of sponsored research, community engagement and interdisciplinarity.

At UMCP, Parks teaches in American Studies. Until recently, she was the founding director of the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy, which fosters interdisciplinary and socially engaged research and activity. An active and leading presence in Baltimore, she currently serves as the president of the board of directors for the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

Among her many achievements, Parks initiated and directed the annual Baltimore Thinkathon and Baltimore Stories: Narrative and the Life of an American City, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Baltimore Stories, involving partnerships with the Maryland Humanities Council and 27 other organizations and institutions, was cited as a national model for deep community conversations and followed by cities like Boston, New York and Charlotte.

In addition, she co-led Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture, supported by a $1.2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

A noted public intellectual, Parks has appeared frequently in national and international media, and is a regular cultural critic for WYPR-NPR and the Baltimore Sun podcast, Roughly Speaking.

Her research specializes in public aesthetics, particularly the ways in which people find and create meaning and beauty in their everyday lives, with specific emphasis on race, gender, social class, sexuality, popular culture and media. Her most recent publication is “Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.” In all of her work, Parks strives to explain the deeper cultural histories that inform the expectations, attitudes and relations that individuals in our country have with each other so that richer understandings will lead to more sophisticated and mutually rewarding interactions.

Sheri Parks, incoming vice president of strategic initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art

Sheri Parks, incoming vice president of strategic initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art

ABOUT SHERI PARKS

Resides in:

Baltimore County

Education:

Bachelor of Arts double major in English/creative Writing (honors) and radio, television, motion picture–writing track (humanities) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Masters and doctorate in communications (behavioral sciences) from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.   I have also benefited from the generous counsel of wise people in my life.

What is at the top of your agenda at MICA?

There is a great deal that is happening right at MICA. The aesthetic excellence is already well recognized.  Many of the faculty and students are very engaged in the community. The job ahead will be to build platforms and strengthen alliances that will make their work easier and even more impactful. The art and cultural sector is the only one that crosses race and social class in Baltimore.  I am excited by the potential to work with–not for–the community.

If you had not chosen education as a profession, what profession would you choose and why?

I started out planning to be a writer and was a print journalist at first.  Stories have always been an important way for me to do my part and to be in the world.  As a child, my mother had me announce that “this is a story” before I told one, so the older women would not think I was lying.  I got a printing press for Christmas and started a neighborhood paper when I was eight.  I went to graduate school to better understand the power of stories.  I am still a storyteller.

Favorite vacation:

London and Ireland with my daughter Kelsey a year and half ago.  We went to an international horse show as a guest of the top breeder for her sport and then traced the slave owner from whom we are directly descended.  Now my daughter  is is in graduate school in England.

When I want to relax, I … :

My daughter is a champion equestrian and we own horses.  They are lovely animals and I enjoy being grandma–the lady with the treats!  I also love arts–all of them–and I read a lot.  I am the granddaughter of a landed farmer, so I like to dig!

Favorite movies:

Right now, I am loving the “Black Panther” movie and what it is doing for black children who need to see images counter to the usual ones. I also love the portrayals of strong, black women, a favorite topic of mine.  Wakanda Forever!  I am also a “Fraggle Rock” fan.

Favorite quotation:

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” — From June Jordan’s “Poem for South African Women,” whose anti-apartheid bravery has gone underrecognized. Too often we wait and  wait for the rescuer to come from somewhere else to save us,  when we are the ones who will save us.

 

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One comment

  1. Congratulations Sheri!! A well-deserved and exciting new position at MICA! Wonderful news!!!