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A light shines on Baltimore all the way from Stoneleigh

Stoneleigh resident and photographer John Waire is the inspiration and organizer behind the “Shine Your Light Baltimore” project — murals to encourage people to see and be positive.
Stoneleigh resident and photographer John Waire is the inspiration and organizer behind the “Shine Your Light Baltimore” project — murals to encourage people to see and be positive. (John Waire)

This little light of mine … Stoneleigh resident and photographer John Waire (www.thewairehouse.com) wants us all to let our lights shine! Waire has a passion project that aims to remind people to see the positive, to BE the positive and to bring their own unique “light” into whatever they do.

For sure, Baltimore has some amazing murals, each inspiring in its own way. Perhaps you’ve caught glimpse of a “Shine Your Light Baltimore” mural while driving downtown. Simple, bold, loud and clear. I asked Waire to tell us the story behind this project.

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“Shine Your Light Baltimore grew from the hashtag #shinealightoneveryday that I use alongside my images on social media," he said. "I try to stress the importance of small, everyday moments in our lives that often get lost in the swirl of life, but ultimately end up holding so much value when it’s all said and done.

“I’m a documentary photographer. I strive to capture life as it is, mooring people to moments of palpable magic that exist. Light is critical to what do. What I started to realize over the years is that the key to the connection in my photographic work more often than not came from the light emanating from whoever I was with.

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"People being around who they love. People doing what they love. People being people, with no regard to the camera, in the moment, being authentically true to whatever they happened to be doing at the time. People shining their light.”

Waire partnered with friend Jessica Watson, of Points North Design Studio, to bring the concept to life. They decided to add the word “Baltimore” to create a local call to action.

Another friend, Connie Weller, of Kindness Tree Movement, created hand-screened T-shirts proclaiming the message (shirts are available at www.shineyourlightbaltimore.com, and $5 from each sale goes to Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School.) The reception was terrific, and Waire felt the need to step things up.

“The message needed to be seen and felt on a larger scale,” he said. “I reached out over social media, asking if anyone owned a building that they were willing to have a mural painted on. A friend responded, offered up the side of an apartment building [2637 St. Paul at 27th Street] and also covered the cost of the project.

The murals were painted by Samantha Redles of Humanmade Signs (http://www.humanmadesigns.com/).

“It’s made me realize how incredibly powerful this project is and inspired me to seek out additional spaces around Baltimore for murals,” Waire said. "In June, we finished our second mural, alongside Charm City Fitness at Eastern and Ellwood avenues.”

People walking or driving by can’t help but smile. It’s like a pat on the back, a hand on the shoulder, to remind each of us that we contribute to the world around us. At least, that’s what it seems to me.

Waire chooses not to confine the message to one meaning.

“I typically steer clear from defining it for anyone that asks, because as soon as you start to do that I feel like you’ve placed limitations on it. I want this to have a life and light of its own,” he said. “Broadly, spreading positive cheer is the goal.

What I love most about Shine Your Light Baltimore is that you can make it your own. Shine Your Light Baltimore. We are stronger and brighter together.”

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