Light Street Branch’s Lynne Parks Earns 2013 Baker Artist Award

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By Tom Warner

Lynne Parks, a part-time library professional associate at Pratt's Light Street branch and a full-time, self-taught artist, was one of three local artists—from a pool of over 700 candidates—who won 2013 Baker Artist Awards! Along with the other winners, installation artist Jonathan Latiano and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra principal cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski, Lynne will receive $25,000 and be featured in an exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art from February through March of 2014.

Lynne Parks
Lynne Parks on Maryland Public Television's ArtWorks This Week.

The announcement was made May 2, 2013 on a special episode of Maryland Public Television's ArtWorks This Week with Rhea Feikin and special guest Jeannie Howe, Director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

Watch Lynn's appearance on ArtsWorks This Week (she appears at the 15-minute mark):

Lynne was also interviewed by WYPR's Aaron Henkin for a segment that will air at 7 p.m. this Friday, May 10, on the weekly radio program "The Signal."

"I had a lot of fun doing that interview," Lynne says. "Aaron came to our house in Charles Village and had a blast looking around at my materials, clinking ceramic doll parts together and saying, 'Lynne, tell me what this is and why do you have it?'"

The juried annual Baker award, officially known as the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, was established in 2008 to encourage and provide financial assistance to regional artists across a range of disciplines (painting, sculpture, photography, music, film). Artists nominate themselves and may submit up to 10 projects for consideration. In addition to the major award, $1,000 grants are also awarded to deserving artists. Lynne, who has submitted her work every year since the Baker's inception, won a $1000 grant in 2011.

Lynne's 2013 submission package included photographs of everything from decaying buildings and rusting bits of scrap to street graffiti and trash piles. Visit the nomination page to see all of Lynne's award-winning Baker Prize entries.

Lynne Parks Portfolio
Trash bits found in alleys and gutters. Photo by Lynne Parks.

When she's not helping library patrons or making art, Lynne also volunteers with the birdwatching activist group Lights Out Baltimore, and her photographs of migratory birds tragically killed by collisions with lights and buildings were a highlight of the 10 works she submitted for this year's competition.

Lynne Parks Portfolio 2
Common Yellowthroat Birds. Photo by Lynne Parks.

For her part, Lynne says that the award will go toward paying medical bills—since age 14, she has been been afflicted with a rare inherited illness that causes aggressive (sometimes cancerous) tumors—and purchasing photographic equipment.

Lynne's illness and her art seem to be inseparable, as her numerous tissue transplant operations over the last thirty years have made her feel like a "Patchwork Girl," one who is "drawn to the discarded, forgotten, and obsolete which are by no means inert." As she told the Baker Award jury, "My artwork reflects what I see in the mirror—reassembled disparate parts. In the areas surrounding aging, unkempt buildings I become enraptured by unexpected patterns in piles of detritus and the shimmering qualities of oxidation. I identify with broken, patched together things. I am a new kind of patchwork girl. In my work, I hope to achieve a reconstituted wholeness."

Besides her award-winning photography, Lynne also creates collages and assemblages, many inspired by the object "fragments" she finds in "the marginal spaces of alleys and abandoned buildings, trash heaps, gutters, salvage yards, and flea market bins."

Now she can collect even more. And maybe even upgrade her camera (though the images that won her her Baker Award seem hard to top to me!)

Morever, the exposure she's received from the Baker Awards will help this "fragmented" Patchwork Girl forge an even greater connection with the regional arts community. Though the 45-year-old librarian received a bachelor's degree from Hollins University with an independent major in creative writing, theater and film studies, she is a self-taught visual artist who, given her medical issues, has had very limited means to pursue her art.

But now there's a silver lining to her photography portfolio. Besides the monetary prize, there's the priceless thrill of recognition—the Baker Artist Award web site alone gets over 250,000 views—and of connecting with the arts community.

As she told the Baker Award jury, "Baker has provided me with exposure and encouragement that I would have been hard pressed to find elsewhere. Opportunities have arisen for shows, collaboration, feedback, and camaraderie. The community they have created is hugely supportive and inspirational. I am deeply honored to be a recipient of a Mary Sawyers Baker Award."

And we're honored to work with our talented Pratt Library colleague!

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Lynne's work is amazing! I would love to see through her eyes for just a day.
Posted by: Lisa Greenhouse at 5/9/2013 10:31 a.m.

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