Acting against handgun abuseFor Ailie Ham, a senior at the...


April 17, 1994|By Stephanie Shapiro

Acting against handgun abuse

For Ailie Ham, a senior at the Maryland Institute College of Art, directing a performance art piece about handgun abuse is a natural extension of her life and concerns.

The shots that frequently disturb her Bolton Hill neighborhood and the daily body count on the evening news have given her ample reason to fight gun culture.

To that end, "Stop the Violence!" an amalgam of dialogue, poetry, dance, video, photography and Ms. Ham's fabric banners will be presented this week at the school.

The performance is more than a polemic against gun control, she says. "I wanted to give the community of Baltimore a wider perspective on handgun abuse."

To delve into what she terms the "psychological history" of urban violence, Ms. Ham videotaped interviews with the parents of handgun victims. "They were some of the strongest people I've ever met."

Ms. Ham's research in Baltimore put her on familiar turf. "When I was a child, I lived in an African-American and Hispanic community," says the New Jersey native. "My mother didn't have a lot of money. I was experiencing what [the community] experienced. I always will feel like that's a part of me."

Musicians, dancers -- including Baltimorean Olufunmilayo and her dance company -- and the Rising Stars Theatre troupe, a local teen acting ensemble, will flesh out Ms. Ham's view with their own artistic expressions.

The audience may be upset by the piece's graphic depiction of handgun violence, Ms. Ham says. But, she hopes their disquiet might lead to action.

"Stop the Violence!" takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at 1300 Mount Royal Ave. Admission is free. Children under 10 not admitted. Call (410) 669-9200. When she creates miniature worlds, Sharon May often adds family mementos to rooms that reflect the comfort -- and idiosyncrasies -- of favorite memories. Take, for instance, the miniature Georgian-styled dining room she created and decorated in honor of her parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

There is a money tree, portraits of the children and grandchildren, tiny wedding bell decorations, a tiny family Bible. The table groans under a buffet of some of the family's favorite food: ham, cheese, deviled eggs, rolls, even a miniature replica of the Jell-O mold her mother seems to produce for every occasion.

Mrs. May says such miniature worlds provide relief from the nightmares of her day job: The 44-year-old attorney is division chief of the sex offense unit of Baltimore's state's attorney's office.

"I often come home with the kind of headache that defies Tylenol Extra Strength," Mrs. May says. "So I will go play with my toys. And in a couple of hours, I don't have a headache anymore."

During the past four years, Mrs. May and her husband, Eric, have collected and furnished 20 doll houses.

Her Georgian-styled box room will be auctioned this fall with other miniature rooms in a fund-raiser to benefit shelters for homeless women and families run by the YWCA of Greater Baltimore. (Mrs. May is president of the organization.) Those who are interested in creating miniature room boxes for the benefit are invited to an open house from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 29 at Legg-Mason, 111 N. Calvert St. For details, call (410) 685-1460, Ext. 264.

Linell Smith

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