Handmade Valentines: Connecting & Expanding a Community Tradition

Handmade Valentines: Connecting & Expanding a
Community Tradition

February 2015
Hawks-Hayden Room Gallery, Meekins Library
Williamsburg, MA

Featuring handmade Valentines by Hilltown Families’ Annual Handmade Valentine Swap participants, 2009-2015

For the past seven years, Hilltown Families has organized an intergenerational, community-based, handmade Valentine swap. Spearheaded by Hilltown Families founder, Sienna Wildfield, this community tradition has grown from an intimate group of families to an extensive roster of participants living across western Massachusetts, from Williamstown to Monson.

This year, 1,550 handmade valentines are being prepared for swapping through the mail by families, individuals, and even youth groups, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

For the month of February, in the Hawks-Hayden Room Gallery at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, over 100 handmade Valentines sent to Hilltown Families by swap participants over the years will be on display in an exhibit, Handmade Valentines: Connecting & Expanding a Community Tradition. New handmade Valentines received this year as part of the swap will be added to the display throughout the month.

These handmade tokens of friendship and community push back against the commercialization of Valentine’s Day while connecting and expanding an age-old tradition. The act of creating handmade Valentines supports creative-free play, while receiving them generates excitement to make community connections and eliminates loneliness. Having them on display at the Meekins Library chronicles the growth of what has become a delightful community tradition in western Massachusetts, open to all and free to participate. Read the rest of this entry »

Elm’s College Exhibit Beautifully Illustrates African-American History

Rhythms of a Faithful Journey: Verses from Slavery to Presidency

African-American artist, educator, poet and author Robin Joyce Miller will present a slideshow and an exhibit of 14 mixed-media collage quilts at 7pm, Tuesday, February 3, 2015 in the Borgia Gallery at Elms College in Chicopee, MA.

The framed pieces in this exhibit are approximately 35″ x 46″. Twelve of them illustrate African-American history events or periods accompanying poetry from the book. Recitations of poems that accompany these works of art will be included in the presentation.

The slideshow, Restoring My African Soul, is a personal narrative of the journey to restoration and healing through faith, art, poetry and photography. Miller co-authored Rhythms of a Faithful Journey with her husband, James Walter Miller, who also will read some poems at the event.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ragamala: Indian Exhibit Sings A Thousand Words

Miniature Paintings from 17th- and 18th- Century India Capture Moods of Music and Poetry at Williams College Museum of Art

Ragamala represents a dynamic intermingling of music, poetry, and painting in India. Ragamala is Sanskrit for a “garland of ragas,” which are unique musical compositions. Drawn from the museum’s rich Indian collection, this exhibition features sixteen ragamala paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what about a picture that illustrates those words… or even a song? How might you translate the mood evoked by an instrumental song into a picture, painting, or even a poem?

Between the 16th and 19th centuries in India, a classical Indian musical tradition called a raga, took on a new characteristic that did just that.  A raga, which translates roughly from Sanskrit into beauty, melody, and color, is similar to a musical scale: a selection of musical notes arranged specifically to convey, or color, a mood; discrete ragas are used to represent specific times of day and/or seasons.  These complex, richly textured melodies inspired poets to create poems based on the moods they evoked.  Artists then transposed these poems and melodies into paintings that visually convey the moods, events, and seasons represented by each raga and poem, and often include a few lines from the associated poem.

The Williams College Museum of Art will have a ragamala–a set of these miniature paintings–on display between September 27, 2014 through January 4, 2015.  Sixteen miniatures from the museum’s notable Indian art collection will be on view.  Read the rest of this entry »

Time Capsule: Extraordinary Exhibit Lifts Lid on Historical Education

Artifacts from a Historical “Time Capsule” Revealed at Old Sturbridge Village
Ongoing through Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hingham, Massachusetts., known as “Bucket Town” due to its prominence in the early New England coopering industry, was also the home of the first and largest community of professional toymakers in America.

Now through mid-January 2015, visitors to Old Sturbridge Village will have the opportunity to view artifacts from a recently-excavated workshop on the Hersey Family Farm in Hingham, MA.  The workshop spent a century undetected, hidden under vines on the historical farm property, before being discovered in 2008.  It had inadvertently become a time capsule, capturing the scene of an early twentieth century New England woodenware and toymaker’s workshop and lying undisturbed for decades.

The exhibit, Bucket Town: Four Centuries of Toymaking and Coopering in Hingham, is on view at Old Sturbridge Village’s Visitor Center Gallery for the next six months.  It contains objects from the Hersey Shop that have never before been seen by the public – an intriguing collection of tools, personal artifacts, and exquisite handicrafts – in addition to a generous selection of handcrafted toys and woodenware made by Hingham-based toymakers and coopers.

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Museums Trace Jewish Community’s Rise “From Shtetl to Suburb”

“From Shtetl to Suburb: One Hundred Years of Jewish Life in the Valley”
Illustrates Jewish Experience in the Pioneer Valley at the Springfield Museums
Through March 2nd, 2014

“The story of Jewish immigrants and their work to develop a thriving community over the last century is a fascinating tale of courage, hard work, and perseverance,” states Guy McLain, Director of the Wood Museum of Springfield History. “Their story is unique, but also emblematic of the challenges faced by so many immigrant groups throughout America’s history.”

The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, in conjunction with several noted local organizations and guest curator Dr. Stuart Anfang, invites you to learn about the history of the Jewish community in Western Massachusetts from the late 19th century through the present.  By combining artifacts, photos, film, and personal histories, the exhibition offers multidimensional insights into the experiences of Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms of Czarist Russia in the late 19th century.  The exhibit also illustrates the growth of their community in the North End of Springfield, the eventual decline of such inner-city neighborhoods in the aftermath of World War II, and the 1960’s relocation of Springfield’s Jewish community and synagogues to Longmeadow and other parts of Western MA following a major urban renewal project in the North End…

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“The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats” at The Carle this Summer

50th Anniversary of The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats pays tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), whose children’s book,The Snowy Day,was the first modern full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist, published in 1962 at the height of the civil rights movement in America. The exhibition marks the 50th Anniversary of The Snowy Day which paved the way for multiracial representation  in American children’s literature.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art presents a new exhibit – The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack KeatsOpening on June 26th, 2012 the exhibit is made up of over 80 of Keats’ works, including sketches, collages, and drawings, photographs of the author, and some of his less well-known Asian art and haiku, and will run through October 14, 2012.

Keats’ work is significant not only in that his children’s books (The Snowy Day, Whistle For Willie, and Peter’s Chair) have been read to and loved by many families, but is important also in that it features African-American protagonists in run-down urban settings.  In fact, The Snowy Day was the first full color children’s book to feature an African-American protagonist.  The settings depicted in Keats’ work reflect the environment in which he grew up, and the stories portray African-American characters in environments representative of urban life during the 1960’s.

By visiting the exhibit, families can begin a group dialogue about civil rights, urban life, and racial politics.  These themes are best for older students, who are beginning to learn about or have some background knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement, but Keats’ illustrations can be appreciated by kids of all ages!  Older students can also use the exhibit as a means of learning and thinking about how art is used to convey big ideas – not only does Keats provide effective illustrations for his stories, he offers a truthful portrayal of urban African-American life. For more information visit www.carlemuseum.org.


Illustration Credit: Ezra Jack Keats, “Peter, Archie and Willie crept out of the hideout.” Final illustration for Goggles!, 1969. Paint and collage on board. Ezra Jack Keats papers, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi. Copyright Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.

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