The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Finding Inspiration in Community

Second grade classes welcomed Lauren Yockel, a Distance Learning Educator from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to their classrooms via Zoom this week to explore how 20th century African American artists found inspiration in the communities where they lived and worked. 

Students explored the work of three different artists who created art in vastly different styles. First, they deconstructed a painting by Allan Rohan Crite called “Tire Jumping in Front of My Window.” Crite lived all his life in the South End of Boston, and this particular painting from 1936 depicts an everyday street scene from outside his window. Students were asked to look carefully at the image and share what they notice and what that tells us about Crite’s neighborhood. Then Lauren asked them to close their eyes and imagine that they are stepping into the painting. What might they see, hear, and smell?

The next painting, “715 Washington Street” by Walter Simon, also depicts the artist’s home in Greenwich Village, New York. However, Simon painted in an abstract style that required the second grade students to look very closely at the colors, shapes, and lines in the painting to identify the different aspects of his neighborhood. Students noticed a checkerboard pattern that looked like the tile on a kitchen floor and railings that reminded them of balconies.

The final work the students looked at was a mural by contemporary artist Rob Gibbs called “Breathe Life,” which was painted on the wall of Madison Park High School in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. The mural, which is the third in a series, depicts a young girl stepping out of a keyhole as she blows a bubble through a wand. Next to her, a backpack lies open with papers and books representing inspirational ideas and knowledge flying out. Lauren asked the students to close their eyes and imagine what inspirational ideas or people they might pull out of their own backpacks.  From author Dav Pilkey to Steph Curry and Theodore Roosevelt, second graders shared many of their own sources of inspiration. Lauren shared a map of murals in Boston created by the MFA with the students. Click here to take a tour of the beautiful murals found around Boston.