That Which Unites Us

Many of the objects are scarred with age. Some are bent, others torn, still others tarnished or rusty. Yet, they are all beautiful in the eyes of their owners. When they tell us their stories, their owners’ faces glow with loving remembrance, awe, and pride. As we listen, we are filled with a sense of wonder and curiosity. There is no lack of emotion in the stories that these objects elicit, and we feel a great responsibility to do justice in bringing both the objects and the stories forward to be admired by the greater community.

Heritage is what unites us all. No matter who you are or where you come from, no matter how much you know about your past or how little, we all have a heritage which is uniquely ours. This heritage is often preserved in tangible ways: a delicate piece of jewelry that was once worn by a great-grandmother, the well-worn tools used by someone’s skilled grandfather, or a tiny, yellowed paper booklet in which someone’s long-deceased relative recorded all the births and deaths of his large, immigrant family. These objects are tiny glimpses into a past that enlightens us not just about what life was like 100 or 200 years ago, but which shines a brief spotlight on who our ancestors were and what they were like.

For the past two months, members of the Committee on Education, Exhibits, and Collections, part of the Revere and Son Heritage Trust, have been holding workshops for the public here in Canton. Artist/educator, Adriana Katzew, a professor at Mass College of Art, has directed these gatherings. Knowledgeable and talented, Katzew has gently guided over forty Cantonites through the process of documenting their cherished history-infused possessions by first photographing the objects, then by asking them to write a brief description of the object and why it is important to them. The results are powerful, compelling, and infinitely intriguing.

After the objects have been photographed and a brief description written, Katzew takes each and transforms it into a piece of art. This artwork will be on display Sat., May 20th, at the second annual Heritage Day Festival held at the Paul Revere Heritage Site on Revere St., in Canton. These pieces, which represent a broad cross section of Cantonites, will be featured along with Katzew’s own art. Katzew’s exhibit and her community involvement has been funded through a Simoni Foundation grant.

Katzew’s exhibit and the community pieces are part of an even larger exhibit curated by volunteers of the PRHS committee on Education, Exhibits, and Collections headed by this author and Joyce Stenmon. The second part of the exhibit is a look at how Canton’s heritage was shaped first by its original inhabitants, the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, and later by influential families like the Reveres and the Drapers. These exhibits can be seen in both Copper Mill Hall, (above the Northern Spy Restaurant), and on the second floor of the yellow barn, (which will soon become the new Museum of Innovation and Discovery). Both exhibits will be open on the day of the festival and are free to the public.

Help make the Site a local, regional, and national treasure!