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Because of these students' art, Baltimore is brighter

Posted at 11:33 PM, May 20, 2024

BALTIMORE — Students from 18 Baltimore city schools participated in the Courting Art Baltimore contest.

On Monday, the District Court in Baltimore City displayed the artwork of 20 student finalists at the ninth annual Courting Art Baltimore awards reception.

The awards celebration highlighted Baltimore City high school students’ artwork, including paintings and drawings based on the theme Baltimore Bright.

The artwork was also professionally reproduced for long-term display at the District Court in Baltimore City, Eastside Courthouse.

Steven Johnson, a senior at Mervo High School, was one of the contestants who won a part of the $20,000.

“It gave me a good opportunity to be creative and let my mind run freely; that's just my whole thing about it. I just wanted to be creative," says Johnson.

He and the other students say they are happy to see their art in public.

“It's really cool. I’ve never really been in anything like this before, so I’m kind of nervous, but it's a really cool feeling, and I’ve never really been recognized for my art like this," says Delia Vanwert.

Although the event was about celebrating the students artwork and giving them scholarships, there is a deeper purpose behind the competition.

“This particular courthouse, there is a lot of really difficult cases that happen. A lot of domestic abuse matters are before the judges here, so the temperature is really high. So the point of the artwork is actually to lower the temperature in the courthouse to reduce stress of the litigants that are here," says Brian Katzenberg, Chair of Courting Art Baltimore.

That is something Brian Katzenberg says has been working very well for the last nine years.

“A client of mine who was in this courthouse on a really difficult matter, he got really upset he had to take a break. He came out and he saw a piece of art that he knew one of the students and he was able to collect himself. So that's when it becomes real," he says.

The top contestants were given scholarships to go toward art programs or post-high school degrees, including a first-place scholarship of $7,500.

Each of the 20 finalists also received $50 gift cards, and two students were given a place in the Maryland Institute College of Art Young People’s Studio, which provides weekend art classes for high school students in the summer.