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CHS PBL12 Students Honor Women in Their Community Through “In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens” Exhibition

photos of the exhibition(April 7, 2022) PBL12 students created an exhibition inspired by Alice Walker’s collection of essays “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.” The exhibition is located in the lobby of Cheltenham High School, where the exhibition opening for  parents/guardians, and friends took place on Wednesday, April 6.

The student-led project sought to answer the essential question: “How does the work of an individual artist or creative impact the shaping of a community?” through the exploration of the creativity of the women in their lives. 

“The goal of this exhibition was for students to celebrate the everyday creativity and industriousness of their individual communities,” said PBL12 teacher Avril Sommerville. 

The students interviewed aunties, mothers, grandmothers, sisters or cousins on their backgrounds and family histories, then displayed personal artifacts, photographs, and words at the exhibition. 

“I cannot think of a better time for displaying the beauty of this work; March is Women's History Month, and April is National Poetry Month. Undergirding all of this is the expectancy and beauty that comes with spring,” said Sommerville. 

Students built and decorated the exhibition, portraying the beauty of spring. Florals surrounded each artifact, alongside greenery and the students’ words. 

“I chose my mom because she has been the biggest inspiration to me. Her passion has been a great example to continue pursuing my dream to succeed as a politician,” said student Matt Shuster. 

He pointed out his portion of the exhibition which included a quote made of embroidery in a frame. “The artifact I chose is from my mom’s teacher, who she was close with in school. She gave this to her at her graduation.”

More than 50 friends and family members walked through the exhibition, many of whom were moved to tears by the beauty of the students’ work. 

Kadiyah Malik drew  inspiration from her cousin Jeannette Mcurry, an entrepreneur esthetician with her own skin and hair care line. 

“Being a young black female comes with many challenges. My cousin inspires me because her parents wanted her to become a nurse, but she decided to live up to her own expectations instead,” said Malik. “I look up to her for that because it’s not easy going your own route without knowing if you will succeed or not, and having everyone doubt you at the same time. I need to do something with my life that I enjoy because it’s my life to live and not my parents.”

Aaron Lattimore-El chose his mother Karyn as his biggest inspiration. He brought in a beautiful piece of art as his artifact of African women posing with each other. “This was given to my mother by her grandmother the day we moved into our new house for our family to make the house flourish,” said Lattimore-El. 

Mikel Hackett and his family came out to see his contribution to the exhibition, which highlighted his grandmother Romena Boone. He brought in a photo of his father in a frame made out of bicycle chains. “I chose this artifact since my grandmother is a kind woman who took children in to give them a nice home. My father was one of those children,” said Hackett. 

“In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” is currently on display in the CHS Lobby.