Hi, my name is Leah McCollum, I am 18, and a class of 2019 high school graduate! At BYA, where I have been working for about a month now, I am a part of the Mural Team instructed by Brandon and have learned many different painting techniques to help me improve as an artist. During our free paint sessions, I really enjoy looking up random things and then putting my own spin on them when I paint.
This summer, our team’s project is a mural for the Office of the Public Defender (OPD). As a team, we decided to draw four of our peers at BYA in the middle and from them are 2 different paths they can choose to follow. On the left are many paths leading to prison and on the right side there is one path leading into the sunset. This image means a lot to me because it portrays the reality of youth growing up in Baltimore neighborhoods. It serves as both hope to other kids that a path leading into the sunset exists even though it may not feel like it at times and as a reminder to the OPD of who exactly they are fighting for.
One field trip I really enjoyed this summer is to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). It was inspiring to learn about the African Americans who paved the way for us. I’ve also really enjoyed meeting my fellow studio apprentices and learning about networking and handling my finances during career readiness. For the rest of the summer, I want to learn how to get better at drawing and painting portraits of people and myself.
As for next steps in life, I will be moving to Atlanta, Georgia soon to attend Clark Atlanta University this coming fall for both Art and Psychology. While I am sad to leave Baltimore because the people here are one of a kind, I am very excited to start on this next step in Atlanta. The thing I am most excited about is getting out of my comfort zone here, meeting new people and learning about their background while representing my artwork and myself for who I am as a person - someone who is shy when you first meet them, a good listener, and fun!