At The Clark's First Sunday Free, kids lift their `Many Voices'

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Six-year-old Minna Hed has a message for anyone driving by her Pittsfield home.

The youngster, with help from John Hed, her father, took pink, blue and green markers and colored in letter stencils to spell out "Fight for Justice," on a yard sign.

Minna chose the saying from dozens printed out on strips of paper during a self-expression activity on Sunday afternoon at the Clark Art Institute.

Why "Fight for Justice?"

"Superheroes," she whispered in her dad's ear. John Hed noted his daughter had dressed up as Wonder Woman for Halloween.

"Love One Another," "Every 1 Deserves Respect" and "Welcome" were among the other children's yard signs keeping with the November theme "Many Voices" for First Sunday Free at the museum.

Each month from October to May, The Clark host a free day of admission on the first Sunday with activities designed to entertain and inspire visitors of all ages.

"Many Voices" was chosen to celebrate the strength of community and the power of the human voice, according to museum officials.

In the lower level of Clark Center, adults and children tacked up notes on a community message board that finished the phrase, "This I believe ..." The exercise was based on radio pioneer Edward R. Murrow's request of his listeners to write essays about their most fundamental and closely held beliefs.

The goal was to encourage people to respect each other's beliefs different from their own. Among the sincere to humorous posts:

"This I believe, family is everything"

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"I believe there is nothing so sweet — or important — as kindness"

"I believe that unicorns are real"

"This I believe, avocados are overrated"

The day's musical expression came from the 11 voices of Springstreeters. The Williams College men's a cappella group left spellbound the museumgoers who suddenly stopped in their tracks in the lower level to hear a well-rehearsed student body in sync with their music.

Jonie and Ed Shwartz were among those listening intently. The visitors from Ayer enjoy coming to The Clark as part of their Berkshire experience.

"We really enjoy the food and the people. [The Berkshires] remind us of the Midwest, where we're from," said Jonie Shwartz.

The Shwartzes then made their way to the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper on the museum campus for a pop-up exhibit of rarely seen drawings and photographs from The Clark's collection.

"The nature of the works on paper make them more fragile to show so they are seen by appointment or during a special exhibit, otherwise they are stored away," said curatorial assistant, Christie Couser.

Williams College graduate student and Clark intern, Nora Rosengarten gave The Eagle a personal tour of the exhibit featuring works from Rembrandt, Thomas Rowlandson and Winslow Homer.

Homer's wood engraving on newsprint of President Abraham Lincoln's first inauguration focuses on the crowd gathered at the Capitol, rather than Lincoln.

"If you spend time looking at the audience members, there's a variety of expressions which keeps with the theme of 'Many Voices,'" Rosengarten noted.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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