If you live in or anywhere near New York City, or are planning a visit to NYC over the summer, make sure to take your sons and daughters to “One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North” at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It is a wonderful exhibition that has at its core 60 small paintings depicting the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North that started around 1915. Each work has a caption which simply but powerfully explains how it fits into the migration story. Lawrence created these works in New York City when he was 23 years old, drawing upon his extensive research in the New York Public Library’s Schomburg collection and other resources. Soon after their completion, the 60 panels were sold to The Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Memorial Gallery (today The Phillips Collection), with each institution acquiring half of the panels. All 60 panels are on display now at MOMA for the first time in 20 years.
Accompanying the panels are other creative accounts of the Migration from the era, including novels and poems by Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Richard Wright, music by Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday; photographs by Gordon Parks; and paintings by Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, and Charles White. An amazing and thoughtful exhibition which you and your children will learn from and enjoy.
Even if you can’t make it to NYC for the exhibition (which runs through September 7, 2015), be sure to check out the extensive materials about it on MOMA’s website, found here. Loads of great stuff, including pictures of all 60 panels, a section on the life and career of Jacob Lawrence, video interviews with a group of cultural and scholarly leaders, information on the Great Migration, and a Harlem walking tour.