Explore the Archives
Michael Sand Archives

Exhibit Design Since the Sixties

Explore Michael Sand’s museum exhibits and other work. An in-progress labor of love, the collection spans decades of design history, cultural and political history, Boston city government, and more.

The Children of Cardozo...Tell It Like It Is

http://michaelsand.com/archives/items/Box-17-Row-01-m098.jpg

In the 1960s, the DC public schools were just a decade from Brown v. Board of Education. By 1968, they'd begun to run up against the experimental ethos of that decade, with the introduction of programs like the Cardozo Program and the Model School Division (MDS).

"Recognizing the need for reform, the Washington, D. C. Public School System sought to initiate change by setting up a Model School Division (MSD)," states a dissertation exploring the MDS experiment. "This act designed to initiate and foster change in the D.C. schools, led to the creation of the Innovation Team as a vehicle for system change...The experiences of the Innovation Team pointed out the need for indigenous mentors or agents, as initiators of change, in an urban public school system. Members of the group, as well as the leader, were employees of the Washington, D.C. school system. The Team had a common bond of classroom experiences, ethnic identity and educational ideology."

Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Cardozo neighborhood in Washington D.C. experienced several days of riots, violence, and fires. It would take decades for the neighborhood to recover, but in the immediate weeks and months that followed, the Innovation Team went to work.

Working with local teachers, the team invited neighborhood children to share their experiences of this series of events. The work the children produced was turned into a Smithsonian Institution exhibit designed by Michael, then Design Director of the Education Development Center (EDC), a partner in the school program. The exhibit was displayed on the National Mall, then traveled the country. Several publications were produced from the initiative.

"Children witnessed the rioting, and the experience was rather devastating. We just couldn't leave it alone," said Anne W. Pitts, an Innovation teacher at the time. "This was a catharsis, to get it out of the system." (From D.C.'s Riots Through the Eyes of Children)

We believe there are additional related projects in the archives that we have yet to identify (and at least one known project: Cardozo Raps).

Further reading:

Man leaning head-first into box
A man in dark pants and a white collared shirt bends over at the waist, with his head and shoulders compeltely submerged inside a large cardboard box on the floor in front of him. Behind him are stacks and stacks of similar brown cardboard boxes,…

Woman folding a box
A woman stands behind a large cardboard box standing at shoulder height (presumably stacked on similar boxes, though the camera angle only captures the woman from the shoulders up). She reaches into the box with one hand and and holds the top of the…

Large room containing stacks of cardboard boxes
A large room contains an exhibit display created from dozens of large cardboxes stacked vertically to ceiling height. On select surfaces of some of the boxes, children's drawings and quotes are mounted. They read, in part, "A soul brother is a…

"A soul brother is a person who love each other" (child's drawing)
Close up of a cardboard box used as an exhibit display. Written on the box in a child's handwriting is "A soul brother is a person who love each other"

Cardboard box featuring interpretive text
A large cardboard box used as an exhibit display reads, in capitalized, black hand-lettering, "These dramatic paintings and statements of the Cardozo area of Washington, D.C., are the result of a courageous invitation from their teachers to "tell it…

Several people support an approximately 20-foot high stack of cardboard boxes
A large room holds several columns of large cardboard boxes stacked into an exhibit display. Several people support a column precariously stacked approximately 20-feet high. A woman stands barefoot on a chair next to the stack, looking up at the…

Woman holding a box
A smiling woman holds a large cardboard box in the air. Someone's hand can be seen supporting the box from a corner of the frame.

Looking down on a large stack of cardboard boxes
The camera looks down onto a room-sized tower of cardboard boxes. The tower is made of four levels: each level is supported by a large, flat cardboard sheet. Each sheet supports several boxes, arranged in an asymmetrical grid. The sheets are then…

Large room containing stacks of cardboard boxes
A large room contains an exhibit display created from dozens of large cardboxes stacked vertically to ceiling height. On select surfaces of some of the boxes, children's drawings and quotes are mounted. They read, in part, "The saddest thing I saw…

Woman standing in front of stacks of boxes
A woman in glasses wearing a black sleeveless sweater and a dark skirt stands among stacks of cardboard boxes used as exhibit display cases.

Projects in this collection: