In the mid-2000s, the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue were largely abandoned. The site of open-air drug deals, looting, and dilapidated buildings, the Sandtown-Winchester area was evidence of a despairing and impoverished population in need of help. Enter Intersection of Change (formerly Newborn Holistic Ministries), a nonprofit focused on community development in West Baltimore. Intersection of Change set to revitalizing the neighborhood, transforming six vacant homes and several abandoned lots into community green space, meditative gardens, and an urban farm.
Intersection of Change partnered with Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA), Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA), and daughter-company Martha’s Place to commission the “Choose Life” mural. Choose Life is the backdrop of Martha’s Garden, a memorial dedicated to those who have died from drug addiction or violence. The mural is a painting of tall trees backlit by the sun, appearing hyper-realistic and serene. A special lighting system allows the mural to be visible at night and makes spectators feel that they are in a calm twilit forest.
Intersection of Change is the parent company of Jubilee Arts, a program that connects more than 2,000 community members a year with opportunities to engage in the arts. Jubilee Arts partnered with BOPA to initiate Art @ Work, a 5-week artist apprenticeship program employing Baltimore city youth aged 14-21 to create murals in their community. Young artists are able to work alongside prominent local artists, including Ernest Shaw, S. Rasheem, Latoya Peoples, Megan Lewis, and others. In 2017, The Art @ Work program created 85 youth jobs, employed 16 professional artists and assistants, and generated 8 new mural projects. In addition to making Baltimore brighter and more vibrant, young artists who have participated as in Art @ Work have gone on to earn degrees in the arts and become accomplished as independent artists.