The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has announced the creation of a paid internship program in partnership with the Valerie J. Maynard Foundation (VJMF). The collaborative program honors and was originally conceived of by Valerie Maynard (1937–2022), who was a pathbreaking member of the Black Arts Movement and for decades a vibrant and important presence on the Baltimore art scene. The Valerie J. Maynard Legacy Internship launched earlier this fall, with the two inaugural interns chosen from among those already engaged at the foundation. Participating students are given the opportunity to work at both the BMA and the VJMF, where they will have the chance to learn practical skills in research and preservation, exhibition development, and the work of artist estates. Each intern will receive a stipend for the semester, the amount of which has not been publicly revealed. Paid internships have been shown to be a way toward increasing job opportunities for those from marginalized communities, thus shrinking the wealth gap between the socioeconomically privileged and those who must contend with the barriers of race, gender, and straitened economic situations, among other factors.
The Harlem-born Maynard, a sculptor, printmaker, designer, and teacher, was the first artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem and founded the institution’s renowned printmaking shop. A member of the Black Arts Movement that flourished in the 1960s and ’70s, she examined themes of Black identity and experience through the lenses of social inequity and the development of the civil rights movement. She taught for years at the Baltimore School for the Arts, establishing a sculpture program there. “Valerie Maynard is one of the most important postwar American artists that most people have never heard of,” Bill Gaskins, founding director of the Photography + Media & Society program at the Maryland Institute College of Art, told the New York Times on her death.
“Valerie was a singular maker and thinker. Her dynamic practice, which embraced a spectrum of art forms, was grounded in an innate right of dignity and shared humanity, with all its complexities, flaws, and aspirations. It was the BMA’s great pleasure to collaborate with Valerie on a retrospective of her work in 2020 and to engage our community with her practice and vision,” said BMA director Asma Naeem in a statement. “It is now our distinct honor to establish the Valerie J. Maynard Legacy Internship and to continue her life-long work in arts education, creating essential pathways for the next generation of arts innovators and leaders.”
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