Honoring Memories through Art and Storytelling

Group photo at Phillips

Student ambassadors from “Bringing the Lessons Home” with the School Programs Educators who led their tour of The Phillips Collection. Photo: James Fleming

As a School Programs Educator at The Phillips Collection, each teaching opportunity is a unique and special experience. I was recently part of something that felt extra special when I collaborated with James Fleming, Program Coordinator of Youth and Community Initiatives at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). James brought his student ambassadors from the “Bringing the Lessons Home” program to tour the Phillips at the start of their Art and Memory project. This project was first adapted by USHMM in 2006 from an Israeli project, Dor le Dor (Generation to Generation), which pairs high school students with holocaust survivors. The students interview the survivors and then work together to capture the essence of the stories in an artwork.

Students at Phillips

Students investigate Jacob Lawrence’s use of line, shape, and color in The Migration Series. Photo: James Fleming

James expressed to me early on that the artistic ability and confidence level of participants in the program varied greatly. He wanted to expose the students to a variety of artworks to help them understand that there are many different ways art can visually convey emotions and ideas. During their tour, student ambassadors carefully looked at how artists made choices about color, line, and shape, among other elements.

Students with survivors

Students discuss their plans and progress with the holocaust survivor whose story and ideas they have represented. Photo: Miriam Lomaskin

My fellow educators and I were blown away by their insights through the lens of their own life experiences! At the close of the tour, James invited me to visit the students while they worked on their artworks with the survivors.

When I arrived at their classroom, it was a typical high school scene: hanging out , eating, and showing each other pictures on their phones. However, when the survivors got there, the students got straight to work and took their time very seriously. They clearly felt the responsibility of honoring these important memories. Many expressed their wishes for more time with the survivors to really “get it right.” They seemed pleased, though, with what they were able to accomplish in their brief time together. One student proudly stated, “That was my part, my idea!” after I had admired the use of symbols to help tell the story of the selection process at a work camp.

Students working on project

Students apply finishing touches to their Art and Memory artwork and explain their artistic decisions to Heather (School Programs Educator). Photo: Miriam Lomaskin

When I asked students how their time at the Phillips impacted their project, I got a variety of responses about learning to use different colors, making things abstract, and building a comfort-level in making art. One student explained, “It helped to know that things don’t have to look exactly like the real thing;” another stated, “Simplicity is okay as long as you get your message across well.”

Final projects

The finished product! A selection of the final student artwork. Photo: Heather Brubach

I hope the students have a chance to visit the Phillips again this fall, when the complete Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence, a work that inspired and encouraged many of them, will be on view.

Heather Brubach, Phillips School Program Educator

Six Words for an AAM Experience

Amy Wike and Margaret Collerd discuss Phillips After 5 with visitors at the Marketplace of Ideas.<br />Photo: Suzanne Wright

Amy Wike and Margaret Collerd discuss Phillips After 5 with visitors at the Marketplace of Ideas.
Photo: Suzanne Wright

On May 19–22, several staff members from the Phillips ventured to Baltimore to attend the American Alliance of Museums’ annual conference. Appropriately, the conference coincided with Baltimore Museum Week, during which members of the community were encouraged to visit local museums and to share their stories by describing their “most unforgettable museum experience” in just six words as part of the Six Words Project. Now that we’re back at the Phillips, excited about all we learned during the conference, we decided to challenge ourselves to sum up our experiences, again in just six words. Here’s what we came up with!

Inspired! Now, I’m excited to implement.

Margaret Collerd, Public Programs and In-Gallery Interpretation Coordinator

Utterly galvanized by inspired collective wisdom.

Michele De Shazo, Museum Supervisor

All my people in one room.

Meagan Estep, Teacher Programs Coordinator

Overwhelmed and exhilarated, opposites inspire action.

Natalie Mann, School, Outreach, and Family Programs Coordinator

Some things aren’t measured in dollars.

Lydia O’Connor, Finance Assistant

Cyber café conversations with creative colleagues.

Paul Ruther, Manager of Teacher Programs

Shrinky dinks, kindred spirits, infinite inspiration.

Amy Wike, Publicity and Marketing Coordinator

Inspired by colleagues, sparked by staff.

Suzanne Wright, Director of Education


Left: Amy Wike and Margaret Collerd show off the crowns they made at the Visionary Art Museum.
Right: A photo booth at the Visionary Art Museum, showing the conference theme, “The Power of Story.”
Photos: Meagan Estep

Natalie Mann and Meagan Estep excitedly palm a reproduction of Degas' Before the Race, on display on a street in Baltimore, via The Walters Art Museum. Photo: Margaret Collerd

Natalie Mann and Meagan Estep excitedly palm a reproduction of Degas’ Before the Race, on display on a street in Baltimore, via the Walters Art Museum. Photo: Margaret Collerd

The Blog Goes to the Big Apple

Photo from cab of traffic in Times Square by Amanda Jiron-Murphy

Times Square in rush hour traffic on a rainy evening. Photo: Amanda Jiron-Murphy.

Participant in Phillips Collection blogging presentation at NAEA sketches responses at the end of the session. Photo by Amanda Jiron-Murphy.

Session participant sketches takeaways during Q&A. Photo: Amanda Jiron Murphy

The week of February 29-March 4, Phillips staff presented at the National Art Education Association’s conference in New York City.

We presented on several topics, including this beloved blog, which has become important to the museum’s virtual persona. The presentation highlighted the blog’s collaborative nature as well as the readers’ involvement.

The session concluded with audience members drawing or writing what they gleaned about The Experiment Station in Elizabeth Graeber’s illustrated picture frames:

Participants wear brightly colored scarves at Phillips Collection blogging presentation at NAEA and share their responses at the end of the session. Photo by Amanda Jiron-Murphy.

Colorfully accessorized colleagues share what they wrote. Photo: Amanda Jiron-Murphy.

A participant in Phillips Collection blogging presentation at NAEA shares her response at the end of the session. Photo by Amanda Jiron-Murphy.

Photos: Amanda Jiron-Murphy

Amanda Jiron-Murphy, In-Gallery Interpretation and Public Programs Coordinator