Stevenson University Professor Helps Transform Baltimore’s Perception Through Art

February 24, 2017 7 AM
chris metzger

Senior Lecturer of Art at Stevenson’s School of Design, Chris Metzger, recently helped create a buzz in East Baltimore’s Oliver and Johnston Square neighborhoods by having his artwork featured in a mural project aimed at transforming the perception of the city.

Maryland Institute College of Art graduate student, Yvonne Hardy-Phillips, enlisted Metzger along with seven other artists to take part in her public art project and thesis entitled, “You Are Here.” The project covers the outside walls of two vacant buildings Hardy-Phillips owns at Harford Avenue and Biddle Streets. “You Are Here” is a commemorative piece to the community’s history aimed on telling the neighborhood’s true, complete story.

Metzger’s piece, “I Am That I Am,” is a two-story wheatpaste mural on the buildings’ south wall. “I Am That I Am” is an homage to Ernest Withers’ iconic “I Am a Man” photo taken during the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tennessee. Metzger’s mural features portraits of several notable people in the Johnson Square community. Each person photographed was asked to finish the phrase “I am” with their own descriptor, replacing man with words such as leader, alive, historian, etc. The words were then dispersed throughout the mural.

The project was well received by the public. Once complete, numerous Johnson Square neighbors paid a visit to see the bold works of familiar faces in their community on the buildings that had been vacant for many years.

Metzger encourages his students to get off campus and explore major metropolitan areas as it is critical in learning and understanding diversity and inclusion.

Visit The Baltimore Sun to see and read more about “You Are Here.”

For more information on Stevenson’s visual communications program, visit

Stevenson University, known for its distinctive career focus, is the third-largest independent university in Maryland with more than 4,200 students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, and adult bachelor’s programs at locations in Stevenson and Owings Mills.