Before I moved across the country to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art and became an intern for the Baltimore Collegetown Network in my junior year of college, I was once a scared and confused high school student living just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. I had interests in art, architecture, and environmental science, however at the time it seemed like my interests were in opposition and I had to choose just one as a career path/major. It was only when I visited MICA’s booth at a National Portfolio Day (where art students have colleges review their work) that I learned about MICA and all they have to offer. I was intrigued by their expertise in both art and design, as well as the variety of majors and minors they offered which would allow me to integrate my interests. I am now a year and a half away from graduating from MICA with a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Design with a minor in Sustainability and Social Practice, and I couldn’t be more satisfied that I chose to come to school in Baltimore.
It was not an easy decision to move across the country to a city where I knew nobody. In fact, I had never even visited Baltimore or anywhere on the east coast before getting accepted to MICA. What drew me first was how I knew MICA was a better fit for me than the other arts colleges I was considering, but Baltimore is what helped me decide to stay. I first visited during the spring break of my senior year of high school. My mom and I packed a weekend bag and drove 28 hours to Baltimore and back (I needed the driving practice as a new driver!). Before going to accepted students day, we visited the Baltimore Museum of Art and nearby Carma’s Cafe. Just walking around, I could see it was a city for creatives and everyone we encountered was very friendly. I could tell right away that Baltimore was the place for me and I would quickly grow to love it when I moved here in the fall of 2018. Below is a picture of me from my first visit!
After hopping on a plane with all my belongings in 4 suitcases, I began college! I had 3 lovely roommates and a robust schedule to contend with, but I decided early on that I needed an education outside of the classroom. I was encouraged by upperclassmen to break out of “the campus bubble” that some students stay in because they are afraid of Baltimore, or believe stereotypes about it that are rooted in racism. I made it a point to walk around with my roommates and new friends to places we had never been before, and at the end of my first semester I turned my goal into an art project. I mapped everywhere I had walked in Baltimore and then estimated the amount of times I walked to each place. Using programs and skills I had been learning in my classes, I laser cut a map of where I had walked in Baltimore, with an increase in depth based on how many times I had walked there. To me, this project marked my growing relationship with the city and solidified my decision that it was right for me to choose Baltimore as my new home.
Now halfway through my junior year, I am beginning to consider my post-graduation plans. I know that whichever path I choose as a designer, I want to stay in Baltimore because I have grown to love this city and consider it my second home. Baltimore’s art scene, affordability, and proximity to many other creative hubs on the east coast make it an ideal city to me, and I can’t wait to discover even more that I love about it after graduation.
Written by Anna Brackett, MICA Architectural Design '22