August 13, 2010
Summer Discoveries: Exploring Identity
Through the Forest Hills Summer Discoveries Program, we welcome 8 visiting summer camp groups every week for a 2-hour field trip. Two Summer Discovery teachers lead tours that explore the many roles of Forest Hills: It is an inviting park that is home to many animals - a landscape that features hills, lakes, exotic and local trees, old wild forest and carefully maintained plantings. Forest Hills is, of course, also a cemetery full of stories and histories; a place that can lead us to remember, reflect and discuss. Finally, Forest Hills is an outdoor museum featuring both Victorian and contemporary sculpture that has been thoughtfully placed to become part of this historical and natural environment.
A tour we have taken with several of the older Summer Discoveries groups explores identity and self-presentation. Walking from a ship captain’s memorial that shows his best sailing ship in relief to a delicate life-size portrait sculpture of a little girl to a thought-provoking civil war monument, we investigate how these representations provide us with clues about the individuality of each person memorialized. We ask ourselves how and why these descriptions of personality and identity are a reflection of the time these people lived in.
Here is a map so you can walk the tour, too:
Through our art activity, we think about how we ourselves are shaped by our history, our environment; we try to express what it is that makes each of us unique. By decorating and filling cardboard “time capsules”, we can imagine we are leaving information about ourselves for people to see in 100 years. Like the Victorian Bostonians who designed memorials for their families, we aim to capture an eternally readable image of who we are, what we are like, who we love, what we believe.
Some students wrote letters and made small books, others built wooden planes, cars, and structures; they drew pictures and made sculptures of themselves, their friends and their family, and several children dedicated their time capsules to people that are important to them.