After each semester at Middlesex, we gather to celebrate the academic achievements of our students at the Academic Awards Assembly. At last week's assembly, we acknowledged work done in the 2016 spring semester. For a full list of students receiving honors, please click here.
To open assembly, art history teacher Sarah Munro reflected on a high school assignment that had stretched her thought process and informed her subsequent studies in art history. Before joining the Middlesex faculty, Mrs. Munro had worked in New York City for the Spanierman Gallery and then served as director of archives to earn her M.A. in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts. Previously, as an undergraduate, she was a museum associate in the education department of the Museum of Art at Williams College, where she had earned her B.A. in art history and economics.
In her opening anecdote, Mrs. Munro described how her ideas of power, gender, representation, and justice had taken shape during that transformative high school assignment (in which she was asked to analyze a Margaret Atwood poem). She then showed the audience how these ideas appeared in her analysis of several historic works of art, before circling back again to the assignment that started it all: "I began this talk with the memory of one of my own high-school assignments," she explained. "I didn’t tell you the grade I received on the essay, and I didn’t tell you the grade I received in the course. I didn’t even tell you my thesis statement, and that’s because I don’t remember any of it. What I do remember is my thought process, and the way in which it began to inform my thinking as an art historian. My hope for each of you is that you have one or two similar experiences of your own. I hope you remain open to the ideas you encounter, and that you allow yourself the freedom to pursue those ideas that interest you. Even if you don’t know where a path will lead, the pursuit—the process—is a worthwhile endeavor".
Mrs. Munro concluded by projecting an image of an unfinished Michelangelo sculpture. "As I look at this work, at each mark left by the chisel and at the image of a figure struggling to free itself from the confines of the marble, I cannot help but think of our own mantra of 'finding the promise.' As students and teachers, our work is not unlike Michelangelo’s. We begin with broad gestures, identifying the parameters and approximate contours of our ideas, before refining them with increasingly precise instruments. Like Jackson Pollock and like Michelangelo, we are all engaged in a process that is difficult, worthwhile, and—on lucky occasions—transformative."