Aurora Borealis (Part of LeRoy E. Hoffberger Shining Youth/Shining Walls Mosaics)
Youth from the William Donald Schaefer House with direction from artist-mentor Mari Gardner
Zanvyl Krieger Main Building, Exterior
In joyful recognition of LeRoy E. Hoffberger's unique role as co-founder with Rebecca Hoffberger of the American Visionary Art Museum, and for his lifelong, extraordinary and passionate leadership as both humanitarian and cultural philanthropist, our national museum's exterior, dazzling, youth-at-risk-built mosaic walls bear his good name.
This pro-youth program that covers our museum walls with recycled and sparkling mosaics first began in 2001 via a partnership with our museum's near neighbor, the Southern High School, and its students identified as at great risk of dropping out. Their very hard team work created Phase I: the three-story tall shining mosaic facade that faces east, fronting Key Highway. The museum's cafe balcony surface was then completed in 2006 in Phase II, working with youth in even greater need of mentoring—incarcerated juveniles in Baltimore City's penal system. Its curved surface depicts a sunset and a moonrise with circular "planets" that are wholly imagined and created by our individual youth apprentices. The stunning beauty of the mirrored mosaic walls encircling our national museum gives us a chance to share the tragic news that nearly 90% of the teens serving time in Baltimore City are doing so for NON-violent crimes! Our Visionary museum's skilled apprenticeship program encourages teamwork, pride in creating something both exquisite and lasting, and results in real job skills, useful for the rest of their lives. After a threshold of dedicated apprenticeship hours, each participant is rewarded with a rare lifetime museum membership. In 2013, Phase III of our multi-year wall apprenticeship program began on the west/Federal Hill face of our main building—a night sky with an artistic Aurora Borealis swirling and glowing iridescent in greens and purples. The top concrete building crown will literally "crown" or complete the multi-year project in 2015 and be covered in mosaics and crystals that can be best enjoyed from the other side of the Harbor—a true radiant beacon of hope expressing LeRoy's and our belief that caring investment in young people upfront makes far better ethical and economic sense than the cost of their correction and punishment.
The LeRoy E. Hoffberger Shining Youth/Shining Walls stand in glorious testimony to Roy's enormous generosity of spirit and steadfast belief that young people are to be treasured by us all as the seeds of our City's strength and vitality.
Phase I: Jack Livingston and Beth Secor
Phase II & III (Aurora Borealis): Mari Gardner
Phase IV: Sara Allen Harper
AVAM humbly thanks the following people and organizations for their support of our Shining Youth/Shining Walls Mosaic Wall Project:
LeRoy & Paula Hoffberger
M&T Charitable Foundation
Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts
Homer & Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation
Baltimore Metropolitan Council
Amy Jean Boebel
HUD & Senator Barbara Mikulski
Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and Floors, Etc.
Quandel J. Vinton Schafer & Sons
Department of Juvenile Services and the William Donald Schaefer House staff