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Towson-themed wall landscape brings colorful art to the mall

Towson University

A local artist is adding a bit of hometown flair to the new luxury wing of the Towson Town Center mall. Amanda Burnham, a Hampden resident and an associate professor at Towson University, has spent the past week installing a full-sized drawing installation on a large wall in the Crate & Barrel Court of the mall, using images from downtown Towson to populate her painting.

On Friday, April 5, Burnham, who fit in about six hours of work during the week as she balanced the project with her class schedule, said the installation couldn't have been going better.

"I applied to this because it just really fit well for the kind of work I do," she said. "I really enjoy working in non-gallery settings, because I like them to be interacted with by people who might not go to a gallery. I'm really excited to be doing this."

The installation is part of the Maryland Art Place IMPACT program, which aims to bring more art into public spaces. Her painting incorporates the buildings, streetscapes and structures she sees every day in Towson.

"I actually haven't done an installation in Towson before, that was another appealing thing about this," she said. "Towson is a big part of my life, so I'm very familiar with all of things I see around here every day."

The drawing installation, which is painted onto papers of different size, color and texture, will be very familiar to Towson residents, though Burnham said she delights in making the buildings less identifiable and have people still recognize them.

In her early version, which she said would be heavily edited with other colors and added layers as her work progressed, the Towson landscape was eminently familiar.

"I have ideas of what specific components I want," she said. "Crosswalks, I knew I wanted that to be a big motif because I like how they look from a patterning standpoint."

Additionally, she planned to use awnings and storefront windows, but said much of the installation was being planned as she painted.

Burnham, a Toledo, Ohio native who got her bachelor's from Harvard and a Master of Fine Arts from Yale, moved to Baltimore to work at Towson after she graduated from Yale in 2007.

She said she has found inspiration in Baltimore's diverse landscapes and architecture.

"That's what draws me to cityscapes and streetscapes," she said. "I'm not the type of artist that's very happy doing a narrow slice … in terms of subject matter. I'm so enamored with so many things, and getting to represent that and working with the city is a great opportunity to have it all."

Nancy Siegel, chair of the Towson's Department of Art and Design, said such a high-profile installation is a great opportunity for both Burnham and the department she represents.

"For the college and university, it's wonderful to have someone with Amanda's talents here," Siegel said. "For the local community, it's wonderful we have a local artist that's readily engaged in the community and wants to take her art beyond the academic walls."

Public art, Siegel said, provides an outlet for people to see art in a different way and can start conversations that otherwise never would have occurred.

"I think Amanda is an incredibly talented artist, and also, very much engaged in bringing her work to a wide audience," Siegel said. "Her themes are readily accessible as they are artistically challenging. They give us much to think about, and equally important, much to talk about."

Burnham's installation will be completed by Monday, April 8, and an opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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