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Basketball-Art Project Leaves Mark on Baltimore Community Center

Collaboration Brings Together Neighborhood Children, Art Professor, Student-Athletes to Create Paintings

By Maryland Athletics Staff

UMD basketball players encourage children to bounce paint-smeared basketballs onto paper jerseys

Men's basketball players Noah Batchelor (back, left) and Caelum Swanton-Rodger encourage children to bounce their paint-smeared basketballs onto paper jerseys at the Robert C. Marshall Community Center in Baltimore on Saturday. Brandon Donahue-Shipp, assistant professor of art (below, with the student-athletes), led the project in his neighborhood as part of the university's Arts for All initiative.

Photos by University of Maryland Athletics

From the iconic photo of Michael Jordan taking flight from the free throw line for a dunk to the towering bronze statue outside Los Angeles’ Staples Center of Jerry West controlling the game, basketball has often been the subject of art. This weekend in Baltimore, the game itself became the tool to create art—and to inspire a community.

University of Maryland Assistant Professor of Art Brandon Donahue-Shipp and two members of the Terps men’s basketball team led nearly 30 children in a project at the Robert C. Marshall Community Center to create 14 painted artworks by dribbling the basketball in an unexpected, colorful and messy way. It’s the latest example of UMD’s Arts for All initiative, which combines the power of the arts, technology and social justice to address the grand challenges of our time.

Brandon Donahue-Shipp, assistant professor of art, two two UMD basketball players

“This was a way to extend Arts for All beyond the university campus,” said Donahue-Shipp. “We are using creativity and fundamental basketball skills to impact the youth of this community center and its families.”

Donahue-Shipp, a visual artist working in painting, assemblage and sculpture, lives in the neighborhood and asked its director, Antonio Jones, how he could support the center. “We talked about the basketball gym and how much attention it needs. It could use some color and something to inspire the kids and remind them what this center means to them.”

He also reached out to the Maryland basketball program, and sophomores Noah Batchelor and Caelum Swanton-Rodger were eager to participate in the effort, which was supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.

For nearly two hours on Saturday morning, with a DJ pumping tunes, Donahue-Shipp’s vision came to life. The children donned gloves, spread paint over the surface of basketballs, and bounced them onto paper jersey cutouts on the court. Some even put the paint right on their gloves to leave handprints on the jerseys to make the pieces their own.

“Seeing them have this experience and knowing that this will make a difference with this community center was very special,” Batchelor said.

The kids asked the student-athletes questions, high-fived and fist-bumped them, grabbed snacks, then went off to their next adventures of the day, some with paint still smudged on their hands, cheeks and and legs.

Eight-year-old JaRon was there for the whole two hours going from jersey to jersey. “It was fun—the players were very nice and I thought Noah was cool.”

Next, Donahue-Shipp will add “names” to each jersey, based on suggestions that children scribbled on Post-It Notes and dropped into a custom airbrushed mailbox that Donahue-Shipp provided, such as “dedication,” “discipline” and “community.”

“I thought this was a really unique way to help in the community,” said Swanton-Rodger. “It’s great to see young kids grow to love the sport of basketball. To combine that with the fun of art was really cool. I had never even thought of doing something like this, but it really goes to show that art and basketball can bring us all together.”



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