An American story
“Big Dreams, Small Shoulders”
Norman Rockwell, whose work is on display through February 3, at the Crocker Art Museum in an exhibition titled American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, is probably most well-known for his World War II-era Four Freedoms series (produced for the United States Postal Service) and the whimsical, illustrated covers he created for The Saturday Evening Post between 1916 and 1961. But Rockwell also possessed a deep commitment to social issues that's perhaps best exemplified in his 1960s-era work, most notably, the 1963 painting “The Problem We All Live With.” Created as a cover illustration for Look magazine, the image depicts young Ruby Bridges' historic walk to school on November 14, 1960. After a court-ordered mandate to end segregation, the 6-year-old Bridges became the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. The painting depicts the scene from Bridges' perspective as she's accompanied to class by U.S. marshals. Now, nearly 50 years later, the painting, recently on display at the White House and now at the Crocker, remains as dramatic—and disturbing—as ever. Getting the chance to see the piece is a powerful experience in its own right, but on Thursday, November 29, the “Big Dreams, Small Shoulders” interactive panel discussion will use lecture, music, poetry and dance to explore its enduring significance. 6:30 p.m., free with museum admission; $5-$10; Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street; www.crockerartmuseum.org.