Merryman Lane is a diagonal alley in the Waverly neighborhood of Baltimore that runs between 32nd and 33rd Streets and Barclay Street and Greenmount Avenue. The lane borders the former site of School 115, also known as the Waverly School. Roberta Sheridan was the first African American woman to be hired as a public teacher in predominantly black Baltimore City (and indeed, in all of Maryland), and she taught at this school beginning in 1888. For a long time, all that remained of this historic landmark was a parking lot and a trash-filled lot.
The Waverly Main Street Association partnered with the Civic Works Community Lot Team, Can Collective (myself with artists Katey Truhn and Jessie Unterhalter), and several local historians to transform the vacant lot into a garden. Based on research and historical photographs, we designed and had fabricated steel silhouette sculptures of Ms. Sheridan and her students, which we installed among the plants and around the pathways. The installation honors the historical struggle and achievements of African Americans in education in Baltimore. Once a space of segregated learning, the triangle-shaped lot below Merryman Lane has become a reflective gathering place for everyone, where the plants and the art are the teachers.