Welcome Back, Migration Series!

Migration Series_dining room

Installation view of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, currently on view in The original Phillips house.

We’re welcoming back The Phillips Collection’s 30 panels of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series with some new digs. The panels returned in September after a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where they were reunited with the 30 panels owned by MoMA in the exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works. If you missed it, the 60 panels will come together again at the Phillips in fall 2016. For now, the Phillips-owned panels are on display in what was once the original family dining room.

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

From Synchronized Swimming to Step Afrika!

Step Afrika! dancers perform in response to Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series at Phillips after 5. Photo: Charles Mahorney

Last August Director Dorothy Kosinski agreed to judge the Washington Project for the Arts‘s second synchronized swimming competition at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Little did she know she was about to meet C. Brian Williams, fellow judge and founder and executive director of Step Afrika! The conversations started poolside on that sunny day came to a culmination last Thursday night during the museum’s Phillips after 5.

As Brian has shared here, Step Afrika! and the Phillips collaborated to create a dazzling marriage of the performing and visual arts. In June, Step Afrika! premiered The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence inspired by Jacob Lawrence‘s The Migration Series in their Home Performance Series.

Last night, the dance troupe performed excerpts from the show at Phillips after 5. Brian told me it was Step Afrika!’s first presentation in an American art museum, and I’m so pleased it happened at the Phillips. The stage come to life from the percussive energy of the dancers, and they awed the crowd! The audience clapped and sang along with the dancers; they gave the performance a standing ovation–something I’ve never seen happen in our auditorium.

I’m looking forward to seeing our stage come alive again when we collaborate with the Washington Ballet for programs related to our upcoming Degas exhibition!