Step Into Art with Mother Caroline Academy Students — a Virtual Exhibition, Spring 2021


We are so proud and delighted to invite you to visit our virtual exhibition, “Step Into Art with Mother Caroline Academy 6th Graders.” Here you will find colorful, expressive paintings by 15 Mother Caroline students along with writing pieces inviting you to step into the world of their art and imagination.  To enter our virtual exhibition and enjoy the students’ creative work, simply click here or on the image above.

We hope you will feel the spirit of joy, perseverance, hard work, and shared commitment that went into the making of this exhibition – and into every step of our collaborative program.  This year’s Step Into Art program with Mother Caroline took place over 15 Zoom lessons!  

After initial sessions devoted to viewing and discussing Pablo Picasso’s “Mother and Child” and Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Obama, students poured their hearts into many sessions of hard work creating their own paintings:  planning, sketching, learning to use watercolors on Zoom, and carefully making final revisions.  Our combined teaching team went above and beyond.  From beginning to end, this program gave students the chance to expand their world, to express themselves in new ways, and to celebrate important people in their lives through art.

“Step into my painting with me!  Come see the family trees and the mountains of a family’s ups and downs…. ,” writes sixth-grader Jazelle.

“When you look at my work,” writes her classmate E’Veyah, “I want you to see two amazing butterflies like you and a person you love, I want you to hear laughing and rolling around in the grass…. I want you to smell the fresh air….”  

As we all welcome spring and the promise of renewal, come see our virtual exhibition – a celebration of life.  Step Into Art with us! 


Step Into Art and Mother Caroline Academy Honored at the State House, July 2018

Pictured above:  Representative Liz Malia (fourth from right) with Step Into Art founder Abby Rischin and Mother Caroline Academy sixth-grade students and staff during the State House reception in honor of our ten-year exhibition and partnership.


This week, Step Into Art and Mother Caroline Academy had the honor of showcasing our ten-year anniversary exhibition at the Massachusetts State House.  At a beautiful reception on July 18, Representative Liz Malia presented us with citations from the governor and House of Representatives “in recognition of 10 years of partnership and dedicated service to enriching students’ learning in the world of art….” Our student artists proudly shared their paintings, we received a proclamation – followed by a standing ovation – in the House chamber, and then we were welcomed onto the governor’s balcony! It was a very moving and memorable day capping an amazing decade of creative collaboration.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts House of Representatives Citation:

“Be it hereby known to all that the Massachusetts House of Representatives offers its sincerest congratulations to Step Into Art in recognition of your dedication to enriching students’ learning through the use of art as they engage in art interpretation, literary writing, and public speaking.  The entire membership sends its very best wishes….”

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Governor’s Citation:

“On behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I am pleased to confer on your organization this Governor’s Citation in recognition of you 10 years of partnership and dedicated service to enrich the students’ learning in the world of art, to build their skills as they engage in interpreting art…self-expression…literary writing, and public speaking….”

“Given this 18th day of July at the State House, Boston, Massachusetts”

Step Into Art with Lee Academy at the Codman Square Library, April 2018

Step Into Art with Lee Academy at the Codman Square Library:

Celebrating a Community Partnership and New Exhibition

Pictured above:  Step Into Art self-portraits by Lee Academy third-graders on view at Codman Square Branch of the Boston Public Library.


This spring, we celebrated the newest Step Into Art partnership, our third-grade program with Lee Academy Pilot School, an extraordinary inclusion school in Dorchester. Bringing students our signature program featuring art from the Gardner Museum, we also reached out to the community in a new way:  we mounted an exhibition at the Codman Square Branch of the Boston Public Library, just a few blocks from the school. Our exhibition transformed the library’s Children’s Room. Walls once bare are now lit up by 52 colorful self-portraits – the faces of Lee Academy third-graders.  Display cases long empty are now filled with children’s poetry inspired by art from the Gardner.

In April, we held a celebration at the library, with live music and art-making.  The shining moment was when students came forward to read their poems aloud to the large gathering – including many students who have long struggled with language and communication. Third-grader Amarachi opened with these lines: “When I step into the courtyard of the Gardner Museum, I feel like it’s a palace of my own.” Before the celebration was over, the teachers and principal proposed making this program – in all its dimensions – an annual tradition.

Our exhibition at the Codman Square Library is ongoing and will be expanding year by year as our partnership program continues. Come see the students’ creative work. Step Into Art with us!

Step Into Art with the Murphy School, January 2016

“Step Into Art: In the Words of Murphy School Third Graders”

With an introduction by Abby Rischin, Step Into Art founder

At the Murphy School in Dorchester, Step Into Art is a longstanding third-grade tradition. We started our third-grade partnership with the Murphy in the fall of 2009, and each year since then, upwards of 75 third graders have taken part in this program immersing students in the world of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Siblings, cousins, neighbors, classmates, eighth graders soon to graduate – all share memories from their Step Into Art experience.

When I was at school for our program this past fall, I ran into Principal Courtney Sheppeck in the hall as a line of kindergartners were marching by. “They’ll be yours in a few years!” she said.

At our concluding celebration in November, the third-grade ESL class invited younger students to come and see their Step Into Art poems and self-portraits, providing a glimpse of what’s ahead.

What do third graders tell younger siblings and friends about Step Into Art? What sticks with them? We asked the teachers to give the following writing prompt to their students after the program concluded:

“If you could tell next year’s third graders about Step Into Art, what would you tell them?”

Here are just a few of the responses we received from dozens of third-grade students at the Murphy School:

I would tell next year’s 3rd graders that Step Into Art was AMAZING!!! You write poems from pictures, you go on a field trip, you check out some paintings in your classroom, and you make self-portraits, and lots of other activities! When you write poems, you write about the Courtyard, the St. George and the Dragon painting, and the El Jaleo painting. It’s lots of fun and you get to sketch in your sketchbook. It’s awesome!


I would tell next year’s super super students that step-into-art was amazing, awesome, great, super, and lovely. Here’s 5 things I really loved about our trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum:

  • Sketching next to the courtyard
  • Seeing and counting the steps
  • Hearing the story of how some of the paintings got stolen
  • Seeing all the way up to the 3rd floor
  • My favorite part was taking the picture at the end.

And those are the most loved parts of my trip!!!!!!!!


I will tell next year’s third graders that step into art is awesome. You get to make self portraits, you get to make poems, and I think you are going to like this one, you get to act out pictures. It is fun! The best part is that you make Who am I poems. You pick something from the museum but you can’t give it away. You need to write clues, then people need to guess who you are from the museum.


I would tell next year’s third graders that everything was absolutely brilliant! I loved the who am I what am I poems, and I loved the party with the oranges, and I loved, loved, loved, the mini play! I liked them because they were all very fun and awesome!


Hi new third grade students. Is this your first time here? It is!? Great!! So if I’m spoiling how awesome step into art is I’m sorry. But spoiler alert!! Step into art is really fun. You get to sketch, make poems, and look at all these awesome paintings. You even get to make your own self portrait. I liked all of it. Step into art is the best!!


I would tell next year’s 3rd grade superstars that the types of poems are awesome, seeing all of the colors in all of the paintings is awesome, and the facts you learn are awesome. The types of poems are awesome because it was new to me and it’s probably new for you. The paintings are awesome because they were so old and they have stories about them. The facts are awesome because the facts are historic and cool.


I would tell next year’s third-graders to love Step Into Art because I love it. It was an amazing journey. I got to see a lot of beautiful pictures. I also got to go to the museum myself and we also got to make poems. I love Step Into Art and I know you will too.

Greater Boston Museum Educators’ Roundtable, January 2007

“Boston-Area Museum Educators ‘Step Into Art’ with Abby Rischin at the MFA”

In a morning workshop dedicated to thinking about diverse learning styles and ways of engaging visitors with works of art, Abby Rischin from Step Into Art shared powerful teaching strategies with us. By asking us to literally “step into” paintings by acting out the gestures we saw, sounds we thought we heard, and emotions we sensed, each participant was able to begin to build a personal connection with the works of art. We connected with narrative paintings, landscapes, still lifes, and portraits in dynamic ways. As a museum educator, I dedicate my career to helping visitors of all ages actively engage with works of art in order to develop meaningful connections. The techniques employed by Step Into Art allow students to do just that. They use close looking, discussion, movement, art-making and imagination to better understand great works of art.

Jennifer M. DePrizio
Director of Visitor Learning, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Committee Member, Greater Boston Museum Educators’ Roundtable