“Our Enchanted City” at Hill Center


Kindergarten and first grade artists at Maury Elementary School (1250 Constitution Ave. NE) took inspiration from a book “The House That She Built” by Mollie Elkman and Georgia Castellano.

Based on the real-life experiences of the author and illustrator, the story highlights the creativity, collaboration, and skilled labor of women who built an entire home from the ground up. Students explored the various trades involved in the construction industry—plumber, framer, roofer, electrician—by experimenting with hand drills, hammers, screwdrivers, wires, and tin snips in the Maury art studio.

Next, students learned the differences between rural, suburban, and urban communities and brainstormed the unique buildings and facilities necessary to help each type of community thrive. Each child identified a structure to construct using straight wooden planks (popsicle sticks), reflecting the material and budgetary constraints many builders face.

As a final touch, they played the role of the interior designer, sketching in furnishings and architectural details to balance functionality with creativity. Astute observers of the world around them, the kids included a hospital, church, school, library, shops—and representations of the National Zoo, Nationals Park Stadium, the Congressional Cemetery,  and the DC Jail.

This spring, Maury art instructor, Lauren Bomba, will submit the work to a District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) exhibition, “Enchanted City,” at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum. But you can get a preview at the Young Artists Gallery on the ground floor at Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) through January 28, 2024.