The show currently on view in the Young Artists Gallery is particularly timely as it deals with themes of loss and renewal associated with migration. Maury ES art teacher, Lauren Bomba, chose Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series as an entry point into an exploration of this important topic, one that her fifth grade students are keenly aware of. The students noted the seasonal movements of animals and discussed the similarities and differences between the migration of African Americans from the agricultural south to the industrialized north and contemporary migrations into the United States and countries in Europe. The students were asked to consider: What factors lead people (or animals) to migrate? How does discomfort inspire change or movement? What are the best ways to make change? Is change always good? Why or why not?
To make it more relatable to these young children, she focused on their own experiences in moving from their old school into temporary quarters at Maury Village on the Eliot Hine campus, and the anticipation of relocating to a new school building opening this fall.
Having established the premise for the project, students examined Lawrence’s sixty-panel work, noting the power of his simplified shapes and use of a limited palette as a unifying principal. They collaborated to develop their own palette. Then, each student created a panel, aligned with one of Lawrence’s panels, and documenting an aspect of the Maury migration experience. A few examples:
We needed to leave Maury when we started running out of classrooms and spots for students to sit in class. (Diallo)
Despite our problems, we did not want to leave. (Jamarko)
Because we knew the old Maury building would be demolished, we painted memories on the walls. (Bailey)
The classrooms looked so empty and lonely before we left. (Samantha)
There were lots of tears. (Jessai)
On the last day, some classes made pretend campfires in their classrooms and sat around sharing memories. (Lucas)
Maury Village felt very unfamiliar when we first arrived. (Camilla)
We took a field trip back to Old Maury watch it get demolished. (Andrew)
Things weren’t all that bad at Maury Village. For the first time ever, we had a field large enough to play team sports like soccer and football. (Finn)
But learning in a trailer still felt different. (Aaliyah)
We tried to find the positive in our new situation; the bathrooms at Maury Village were better! (Samari)
Unfortunately, some students will graduate before ever having the chance to migrate back to the New Maury. (Talayna)
The boxes started arriving again signaling the start of a new migration on the horizon. (Audrey)
The results are astonishing, both visually and conceptually. Ms. Bomba invites everyone to see this “creative record of change in our community” and “grow from this example of resilience, flexibility, optimism, persistence and empathy.”
Hill Center is located at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The Young Artists Gallery is on the ground floor, east of the main staircase. The show will hang until mid-November.