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Young artists from Make Studio part of Free Fall Baltimore

Bess Lumsden, left, of Ruxton, and Erika Clark, of Milford Mill, will have their artwork displayed during Free Fall Baltimore at the Make Studio in Woodberry beginning Oct. 11.
Bess Lumsden, left, of Ruxton, and Erika Clark, of Milford Mill, will have their artwork displayed during Free Fall Baltimore at the Make Studio in Woodberry beginning Oct. 11. (Mary K. Tilghman, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Two young artists with local ties will be featured in a Free Fall Baltimore exhibition at Make Studio in Woodberry beginning Oct. 11.

Bess Lumsden, of Ruxton, and Erika Clark, a Milford Mill resident who attended Towson High School, will display paintings at the studio through October.

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The two artists are part of Make Studio, which supports the artistic endeavors of people with disabilities. Make Studio is holding a sold-out tapestry workshop, "Gathered Strands" on Oct. 11.

Both Lumsden and Clark have been stitching small tapestries for the workshop. Their  paintings go on display that day through Oct. 24 when a reception is scheduled, according to Cathy Goucher, outreach coordinator for the studio.

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It's clear from the moment you see the works of Lumsden, 27, that she likes anime and cartoon drawing. They — and toys — are the inspiration for her paintings. She got her start with Barbie and My Little Pony dolls. With a wicked sense of humor, she turned the sweet toys into something more sinister  — "making it into the creepiest thing you can imagine," she said. She even gives them a back story, creating Gothic tales of horror for each piece.

Now she likes to explore the dark side of Disney-style princesses in a series she calls "The Princesses of Grim." Her series, painting in watercolor, have a stained glass appearance, with the main character surrounded with portraits of other characters from the story.

Disney isn't Lumsden's only inspiration. Some of her paintings are influenced by Japanese anime artists and with strong women, surrounded by deep shadows and a few skulls. She gives her drawings a edgy look.

She frequently sprinkles salt on her canvases for "a sparkly whimsical texture," she said. "It adds a magical aspect to the piece."

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The works are dark, filled with a sense of foreboding, hinting that these ladies won't have happy endings.

Lumsden, a graduate of the Harbour School in Owings Mills, also attended classes at the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County. She has been a part of the Make Studio since 2010. Both she and Clark work at the studio on Fridays. Lumsden also volunteers at the Cylburn Arboretum, working with Master Gardeners to maintain the gardens. "We weed and keep the grounds nice," she said.

Two days a week she works at an organic farm in Irvington run by Samaritan Woman, an anti-human trafficking and victim services organization.

"I've been doing art all my life," Lumsden said. "At school, for pleasure. A lot of it was for pleasure."

Clark, 19, who began painting three months ago, likes to layer acrylic paints on her canvases for "many layers and a focus on textures," she said.

A swirl of colors against a black background looks abstract but Clark can point out fields of flowers and ocean waves in her painting of creation.

"I tend to engage in a mix of formalism and Expressionism," she said.

Clark, who has been spending time at Make Studio for more than a year, also works in chalk pastels.  One of her works in pastels depicts with an abundance of color and shading the tree of time. "This is one main branch of a very vast tree," she said.

She figures she spends up to three six-hour sessions working on each painting.

Goucher said she likes to watch Clark when she's painting. "She gets so into what she's doing."

The young artist said she began drawing and painting about three or four years ago.

"I realized I had an affinity for art," Clark said. She applied for admission after learning learned the Make Studio on the news.

"I get engagement out of it," Clark said, "a feeling of accomplishment."

The Make Studio supports the women as professional artists with studio space and materials, according to Goucher. All of the work from the member artists is available for sale with 70 percent of the proceeds going to the artist and the remainder used for materials in the studio.

One result of this arrangement has been to teach member artists some business skills. Goucher said she has seen changes in Lumsden's art as she learned what her audience is interested in. For instance, she moved from her three-dimensional pieces to more frameable art once she realized they were easier to sell.

The show will be open at their studio at 3500 Parkdale Ave. in Woodberry. Make Studio is located on the third floor of Building 1 of a repurposed industrial building near TV Hill.

Artists from Make Studio will also among those featured in an exhibit at the Towson Arts Collective through Oct. 11-25 Heroes: Everyday Heroes to Superheroes takes a look at images of people as heroes, according to Diane Margiotta, a TAC board member who coordinates most of the exhibits.

The show will feature the work of Dan Keplinger, a member of Make Studio's advisory board and the writer of an Academy Award-winning documentary "King Gimp."

"He is very much a hero to people with disabilities," Margiotta said.

This exhibition marks the one-year anniversary in their new space at 40 W. Chesapeake Ave., Margiotta said. It will open with a reception on Oct. 11 6-8 p.m. and will be open to the public Wednesday through Saturdays, 12 to 5 p.m. through Oct. 25.

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