Local kids featured in "The Fourth Grade Project," on display at UGA Special Collections Libraries

Submitted by Camie on

A traveling exhibit at the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries celebrates children from across the globe — including children from Athens area elementary schools — with portraits and insights into cultural similarities and differences.

The exhibit, entitled The Fourth Grade Project, features interviews and photographs taken by acclaimed artist Judy Gelles from 11 countries on five continents. She asked all of the students the same three questions: Who do you live with? What do you wish for? What do you worry about? Their varied stories touch on the human condition and urgent social issues.Photos of 8 children facing a brick wall, with their words on the wall around them.

Tying the exhibit back to Athens, local kids completed self-portraits and questionnaires that will be on display alongside other 9- and 10-year-olds from China, England, India, Israel, Italy, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, South Africa, Dubai, South Korea, and multiple areas of the United States.

Traditionally we have assumed that politics was the province of adults,” said Russell Library director Sheryl Vogt, “but this exhibit reminds us that politics and policy impact all of us including children so it is wonderful to give them a forum to share their concerns and visions for what the world should be."

In addition to free weekday gallery hours at UGA Special Collections Libraries, children and families are invited to explore the exhibit during a special Family Day, set for Saturday, July 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event will feature performances from various cultural organizations including the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company and UGA Hodgson School of Music student Vicki Lu in collaboration with the Spring Music School.

Judy Gelles (1944–2020) received her MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and her Masters in Counseling from the University of Miami. She had a longtime focus on themes of family and children, with work in major collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her work has been featured in Ms. Magazine, Vision Magazine, Beijing, China; Camerawork, New Art Examiner, and Photography Now. The Fourth Grade Project is organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance.

The exhibit will remain on display through August 11. The galleries at the Special Collections Libraries, located on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, are open to visitors for free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, with extended evening hours until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit libs.uga.edu/scl