The Fourth Grade Project

Who do you live with? What do you wish for? What do you worry about?

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Over the past ten years, acclaimed artist Judy Gelles has interviewed and photographed more than 300 fourth-grade students from a wide range of economic and cultural backgrounds in China, England, India, Israel, Italy, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, South Africa, Dubai, South Korea, and multiple areas of the United States. 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.

About the Exhibit: 

The Fourth Grade Project features 65 portraits of fourth grade students from 10 countries around the world. The students’ stories capture the gamut of societal issues that we face today: violence, immigration, the demise of the nuclear family, global hunger, and the impact of the media and popular culture.

In all of the portraits across the spectrum of countries, the children are presented as individuals; however, their stories speak to greater pervasive truths and challenges within our society. Told in their own words, these children’s stories touch on some of our most pressing social issues and common human experiences.

The Fourth Grade Project connects viewers locally and globally, bridging cultural differences by fostering a strong, tolerant, and global student community. The project helps to decrease isolation and prejudice while asserting that every person’s story matters. 

About the Artist: 

Judy Gelles received her MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and her Masters in Counseling from the University of Miami. She has had a long-time 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.

The Fourth Grade Project is a program of ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance with Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is a division of the State Preservation Board. Additional support of exhibitions and programs is provided by the Texas State History Museum Foundation.

Above banner images courtesy Judy Gelles (left to right): St. Lucia Portrait (St. Lucia Public School), 2015; Yakima Portrait (USA Washington Public School [Yakima Indian Reservation]), 2016; China Portrait (China School for Migrant Workers' Children), 2010; England Portrait (England Preparatory School), 2014, Courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.