An untold story.
The Little Glass Treasure House is the untold story of community, artmaking and dedication at the Children's Art Centre of Boston's South End. Charlotte Dempsey taught here for nearly 40 years. This is her story and the collective story of the children of the South End who walked through these doors. This children's literature book is 32 pages of text, written with 3rd - 5th grade reading levels in mind.
Online book sales are here: https://www.southendbookstore.com/the-little-glass-treasure-house
April 2, 2019 - Book Launch at the South End Library, 6:30pm
April 4, 2019 - South End Author’s Book Festival, 4-8:00pm
April 8, 2019 - South End Historical Society Lecture, 6:00pm “Charlotte’s Legacy: Lessons on Innovative Art Education”
In 2017, I taught Vacation Arts at the United South End Settlements (USES). The Children’s Art Centre was designated as my classroom. The beauty of the space and the few accounts I heard of this building’s history, caused me to become completely enamored with this historic landmark. My reverence for the space and the people in its legacy led me to create this book.
I taught studio art to incredible young children alongside colleagues who became treasured friends. The beauty of the CAC speaks for itself. What was not as clear was the history. I came to learn that no one could articulate the story of the lawn and the pillars. No one knew about the life of Charlotte whose pictures with her students hung on the walls. I began to research archives and interview community members in order to understand the untold memories. It escalated into so much more.
A frequent habit I practiced with my students was the habit of observational drawing. We would make five minutes drawings of our space, daily. This practice sharpens technique, focus, and appreciation for our environments. My personal drawings from these exercises evolved into paintings, which amassed into a series, and ultimately a full-on project, whose mission was to share about this place that seemed so unknown.
It took months for me to realize how counter cultural Charlotte was in the decades of the civil rights movement - how truly daring she was to welcome all children and families. It would take me a year to learn about the renowned museums who trusted the masters’ artworks to the staff at the CAC. And finally, it took me two years to understand how this incredible woman managed to dedicate so much of her life to the South End. In an annual report. Charlotte admitted, “I lost my life to the art centre.” She never married. It was devotion and conviction that led this woman to offer the holistic art education that she did for 37 years of her life.
Through this process, I have held the same reports that she pulled out of her typewriter. I have read her vulnerable reflections filled with elation and also deep sorrow. I have taught in the classroom where she dedicated her life. These experiences have been my greatest joy.