This spring, the photography exhibit “(un)expected families” at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston explores the variety of relationships within American families. On March 28, Nobles Advanced Placement in Photography students and Dorchester’s John Winthrop Elementary School 4th and 5th graders forged their own unexpected connections after a joint field trip to the exhibit.

The addition of the excited elementary school students enlivened the bus of Nobles upper school students with laughter and songs as the group traveled together to the MFA. The tour began with a walk around the building, with Nobles faculty member John Hirsch and Winthrop teacher Richard Perkins prompting discussions about the artwork. The middle school students led the charge to enjoy closer perspectives of the works, offering their honest—and often humorous—interpretations. As they walked, Nobles and Winthrop students chatted about their families, friends and school experiences.

The groups divided for age-appropriate tours of the museum’s interior. Docent Laura Becker led one group of Nobles photography students on a fast-paced tour through the museum, stopping at her favorite pieces. She began in the “(un)expected families” exhibit with Tina Barney’s “Thanksgiving” and selections from Carrie Mae Weems’ “The Kitchen Table Series.” The group enjoyed Warren and Lucia Prosperi’s “Museum Epiphany III,” a painting in the Penny and Jeff Vinik Gallery depicting museum visitors in that same gallery. “It’s like Inception,” the students laughed as they realized the painting was mimicking visitors like themselves. Moving on through the museum, the group tested different perspectives on Josiah McElheny’s installation “Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism.”

Nobles and Winthrop students came together at the “(un)expected families” exhibit, where students of all ages drew connections between the artwork on the walls and their own photography. Alex Poole ’19 connected her work to Nicholas Nixon’s “Tammy Hindle” through a shared focus on grief. Winthrop student Draeleen Mondelus found a photograph of twins and was delighted to connect the work to her own unexpected family, which includes a set of triplets.

View the gallery below for more pictures from their trip.


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