Yesterday we went on a field trip to see Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series at the Seattle Art Museum.
One large space contained all sixty panels. We circled the four walls of the room, following his story of the Great Migration.
He drew all of the panels in pencil, placed them on the floor, and then proceeded to paint them all at once, one color at a time-painting all of the brown areas, all of the red, etc… like a self-made coloring book of his people's story.
My painting teacher had him for a professor. She remembers how kind he was, and the wonderful gatherings he would have with his students at his home.
The series is being shown in honor of what would have been Mr. Lawrence's 100th birthday. It's been twenty years since all of the panels were last displayed together, making this a very special exhibit.
I was not prepared, but tried to answer, the students' questions about this piece, "There were lynchings".
When asked how they felt looking a specific panel, the children's answers ranged from "Hopeful." to "Afraid."
Another trip to the exhibit is planned, as corralling fifteen, growing hungry and tired, fourth graders did not allow for much lingering or pondering. But I'm very glad these children were able to have the chance to experience this, and to wonder about the migration stories in their own families, both past and present.