Today was a less emotionally challenging and more about having fun and being creative. The curriculum was us creating our own voice of the objects and portraits instead of listening to other people stories. After a morning of discovering how to tell an effective story and how to get the most out of the object by pure sight, we got to put our skills to the test!
The most impactful part of the day was when we went to the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery and was able to spend time with an object then come up with the story linking our individual objects to our partners objects. It was less about being historically accurate and more about how we told the stories, the details and elements that helped progress the story along.
The object I chose was a painting of Denyse Graves. This painting caught the complexity and spirit of the opera singer. It showed all the subjects mid actions, looking like they were caught mid performance. This hyper realistic painting was able to Petray so much passion and vibrancy that we wanted to bring into the story we created. My partner Sara chose Albert Einstein’s portrait, so we decided to have him (being of a science mind) go to the opera. Our theme ended up being that people don’t have to be just of science or just of arts like shown time and time again, but can have an appreciation for both. We are multidimensional beings and we have more than one side to us just like stories do.
Although today proved to be emotionally and physically challenging day, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. NMAAHC was a fantastic start to our two week journey through the Museums of Washington D.C. While I enjoyed the whole museum I was particularly touched by the bottom level of the museum.
Standing in the elevator as we slowly descended watching as the dates scrolled back to the 1400s put me in the moment and made me feel like we were being transported back to the beginnings of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Upon walking into the exhibit there is a feeling of sorrow that washes over you. Throughout the exhibits on the bottom level, especially in the beginning when they are describing the transporting of the slaves, it is easy to empathize with the African caught in this awful situation. A particular section of the exhibit features you going into a side room with wooden floors and pieces of the boat, quotes and a few shackles are on display. In that tiny alcove, the story that was delivered brought tears to my eyes. The quotes on the walls described slaves jumping overboard into shark infested waters to end their misery and how many greeted death as a friend. But the most impactful quote I found was a quote by William Corbett in 1806 stating, “Their singing…[was] always in tears, in so much that one captain…threatened one of the women with a flogging because the mournfulness of her song was too painful for his feelings.” Many times the crew of these ships are portrayed as evil villains in the background this brought to light a couple things about some of the people who transported the slaves to auction. The first being that they knew what they were doing was wrong, they knew these were people who were getting wrenched away from their homes, families and lives to serve as puppets for an others use. Secondly, they were not unaffected by this deed, they held with themselves a shame that they were trying to ignore and did not want to be reminded of such emotions.
Although I was most effected by the section over the slave trade, NMAAHC did an amazing job on their execution of storytelling. There was always more than one side to the story making the exhibits more dimensional and enriching. They accomplished this with visuals, audio, and digital interactives throughout the entire museum. All the tools they used made the visitor put it into a personal level that I had never seen before.
Photograph of Academic Cap worn by Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole at Bennett College, retrieved from: goo.gl/h6syor
Upon looking through the National Museum of African American History and Culture collections that were on display I found a Academic cap worn by Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole at Bennett College. The academic cap was designed by Barbara Nicholson a successful African American businesswoman who owns her own company called Champagne and Grits Studio and Galleria. The cap is made up of mortarboards, satin material and silk ropes. The cap is a indigo blue with black and gold stripes across the top and a gold tassel. The edging of the horizontal board and skull-cap has an elaborate ethnic pattern to it. The inside of the cap is embroidered with the date of October 11th 2003 in gold thread. While on to there is a quote printed on top of the cap staring, “Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise -Maya Angelou”. The cap was made in 2003 for Dr. Johnnetta Cole who was appointed the 14th President of Bennett College on October 11, 2003. Dr. Johnnetta Cole is currently the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.
I chose this object because of the symbolism of the academic cap in current times. It is a symbol of education and accomplishment. When everyone is striving for the “American Dream” education is the first obstacle in the path to accomplishing this idealized status. The cap embodies the hopes for a better life that come with being educated and linked with said College or University. When worn it shows to everyone the accomplishments that the person has completed, to further themselves along the path of a better life. This is a common thread that ties people together regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, background or sexual orientation. Hope for a better life is what America is all about, it is about the opportunity to better ones standing through means of education and hard work.
Hello everyone, enjoy learning a little bit about me. Can’t wait to see you all in person in a few weeks! Until then I will see you online.