Year 4 project opens at the Bullock Museum

The exhibition features photographs and ideas from fourth-grade students around the world.

AUSTIN, Texas – The Fourth Grade Project, an exhibition highlighting the work of visual artist Judy Gelles, opened at the Bullock Texas State History Museum on Saturday, June 25. The photography exhibition presents images and personal stories of school children from all over the world.

“We’re so excited to have this exhibit at the museum. Families can bring their kids before school starts and learn from other fourth graders around the world,” said Kathryn Siefker, curator at Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Between 2008 and 2019, Gelles interviewed and photographed more than 300 fourth graders from a wide range of economic and cultural backgrounds in many countries and several regions of the United States.

The artist asked each of the students the same three fundamental questions of life: who do you live with? What do you wish? What are you worried about?

A fourth grade student from Austin was at the exhibit and KVUE asked her the same questions.

“I live with my mom, dad and brothers. I want to go to the Olympics to do gymnastics. I’m afraid of hurting myself in gymnastics,” said Evelyn, Siefker’s fourth-grade daughter.

The voices of fourth-grade students capture a variety of experiences and ideas that speak to both the commonalities and distinctions in growing up in different families and communities, the museum said.

“The Bullock Museum selected this traveling exhibit before the pandemic began. Welcoming thousands of fourth-grade students studying Texas history at the museum each year, we felt that the beautiful and thoughtful way the artist captured each student’s image and voice would resonate with our audience of significantly,” said Margaret Koch, director of the Bullock Museum.

The photographs in the exhibition capture the students in a combination of frontal and reverse portraits. Participants can walk the circle through the museum and read each child’s answer.

The exhibition also allows visitors to ask themselves the same questions that Gelles posed to students with interactive experiences. Visitors can reflect on their answers with an interactive mirror or become part of the exhibit by posing and taking their own photo.

The exhibition is presented in English and Spanish, and an educational guide is available to help teachers develop lesson plans that focus on global understanding and tolerance.

The fourth-year project is presented at the Bullock Museum from June 25 to December 11.

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