Every Picture Tells a Story
Franklin DeGroodt Memorial Library, Palm Bay, FL
Project Director: Patricia Portnowitz
Target Audience: Adult, Teen, Children
Library Size: Over 100,000
“The programs presented at the Franklin DeGroodt Memorial Library had a twofold purpose to enlighten and educate the audience on American history through art as well as broaden their knowledge of Florida’s cultural past.”
The Franklin DeGroodt Memorial Library (FDML) chose to highlight specific works from the Picturing America collection in thematic lectures or interactive programs. The library incorporated storytelling, book discussion, photography lessons, hands-on art projects, and more to appeal to adult, teen, and child audiences. With each piece of artwork selected, the accompanying programs—led by an array of local scholars—helped to highlight the image, the era in which it was created, and the life of the artist.
Use of the Artwork
All the Picturing America images were displayed in a gallery hallway outside of a large meeting room at FDML, and specific images or thematic groups were selected for further discussions led by local folk art experts, historians, authors, architects, and wildlife photographers.
Programs and Ideas
Re-enactment: Mary Fears, storyteller and re-enactor, portrayed African American characters from the Civil War and retold the Underground Quilt Story, using the Picturing America Quilts poster as a reference.
Crafts: Projects inspired by Paul Revere Jr.’s teapot, Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Autumn Landscape, and Carl Toolak’s baleen basket, included creating Tiffany-style jars made out of tissue paper, basket weaving, and foil rubbing.
Book discussion: A group of adult readers discussed Angel City by Patrick Smith, tying Smith’s portrait of migrant workers to Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange.
Book discussion: Drawing from the rural landscape of Winslow Homer’s The Veteran in a New Field, an adult reading group discussed Plainsong by Kent Haruf.
Teen book discussion: A group of teen readers discussed Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper and The Secret Soldier: The Story of Deborah Sampson by Harold Goodman, tying into the themes of Native American heritage and the Revolutionary War present in several Picturing America images.
Children’s Storytime: The County Election by George Caleb Bingham was displayed for children while stories about voting were read, and sample ballots were distributed.
Photography discussion: John James Audubon’s American Flamingo was featured during a discussion on wildlife photography from an expert in the field.
History discussion: Using Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Luetze, a local scholar discussed how the Revolutionary War shaped the nation and the state of Florida.
History discussion: Using Portrait of Mah-to-toh-pa by George Catlin and “Sans Arc Lakota” Ledger Book by Black Hawk, a local scholar discussed early Florida history alongside the history of the Seminole tribe.
- Angel City by Patrick Smith
- Plainsong byKent Haruf
- Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
- The Secret Soldier: The Story of Deborah Sampson by Harold Goodman
Attendees were pleased with the variety and quality of the programs and presenters. The library promoted the programs throughout the fall of 2010 and January 2011 with a lobby display, posters, bookmarks, flyers and the images hanging in the library. Patrons enjoyed this and could be seen viewing the images during this time. Materials that related to the programs circulated. This is the time of the year when snowbirds are in Florida and they are always very appreciative of the free events offered at their local library.