I moved to D.C. because . . .

Visitors looking at Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series (1941) at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Max Hirshfeld

Visitors looking at Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series (1941) at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Max Hirshfeld

This spring, Jacob Lawrence‘s art inspired second graders in Mr. Frazell and Ms. Crossons’s classes at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School to study the migrations of those around them. Using a worksheet created by their teachers, the students interviewed family members or friends who had moved to Washington, D.C., from another place, asking about their first memories of arriving in the city and what they remembered about their old homes. Then they studied their interview notes and chose one sentence to serve as the caption for artworks they would create. Then they identified the shapes, lines, and colors that would best communicate the emotion of the piece.

Students used color pencils to sketch designs. Since many of the drawings were rich in detail, students were encouraged to simplify and identify a focal point to translate into a painting. Following Lawrence’s process, students created outline sketches on panels and used small Post-it notes to label which color would go in each shape. Maintaining Lawrence’s method of working, students painted one color at a time. They applied light colors first , added dark colors the next day, and finished with final touch-ups.

Second grader Alexandria interviewed her Auntie Marian for this piece. Take a look at her worksheet to learn more about Marian’s migration and how Alexandria selected her caption, Marian: “I decided to move to D.C. to seek a good job.”

Marian: “I decided to move to D.C. to seek a good job.” Alexandria, 2nd Grade Tempera paint on illustration board. Photo: James R. Brantley

Marian: “I decided to move to D.C. to seek a good job.” Alexandria, 2nd Grade Tempera paint on illustration board. Photo: James R. Brantley

Second grader Jonas interviewed a man by the name of Joe Howard who had moved from Japan. For his artwork, he chose the caption Joe: “I moved from unique Japan to the crowds of D.C.” Take a look at Jonas’s worksheet for a map he drew of Joe’s route.

Joe: “I moved from unique Japan to the crowds of D.C.” Jonas, 2nd Grade Tempera paint on illustration board. Photo: James R. Brantley

Joe: “I moved from unique Japan to the crowds of D.C.” Jonas, 2nd Grade Tempera paint on illustration board. Photo: James R. Brantley

In June, students celebrated with a community celebration at The Phillips Collection, where they got to see their artwork on the walls of the museum in a Young Artists Exhibition, which you can currently see in our Sant building (level L2).

Paul Ruther, Manager of Teacher Programs

Photo of second grader Jonas and Phillips educator Paul Ruther during a community celebration at the Phillips in June 2012. Photo: James R. Brantley

Jonas and I looking at his artwork in the Young Artists Exhibition together during the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School Community Celebration at the Phillips in June . Photo: James R. Brantley

3 thoughts on “I moved to D.C. because . . .

  1. I have always known that the Phillips’ education program and staff are wonderful but having a chance to see my friend Jonas’ art work on this blog was the highlight of my day.

    I attended that wonderful afternoon when students performed on the stage and had a chance to see their work on the walls.

    It appeared that this project was so special to the students and their teachers.

  2. Thanks for your kind words Toni.

    Interestingly we received a nice note from Jonas’s mother providing some additional background on the work. Please read below.

    Dear Mr. Ruther – I finally signed onto the Phillips Collection blog and read the wonderful entry and photos about my son, Jonas’, artwork and assignment. I thought I would correct some information about his project.

    Jonas interviewed his paternal grandmother, MRS. (Mary) Jo Howard, for the Jacob Lawrence Migration series. There was an assumption that Jonas interviewed his father, Joe Howard. The map is a detailed listing of Jo’s life from her birth in Michigan to finally moving to DC in 1990 from Japan where she and her husband had been stationed with the US Navy.

    By the way, I was blown away by Jonas’ worksheet/map accompanying his finished painting. I had never seen this before and look forward to sharing it with his grandmother.

    Thank you so much for honoring the hard work of the Inspired Teaching 2nd graders. They had a wonderful time with the Phillips Collection education program and it is a delight to see it profiled on the Phillips Collection blog.

    Sincerely,
    Jennifer Baker Howard

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