Autumn foliage emerges along a brook’s rocky banks in "Forest Glade: by Thomas Watson Hunster.
Landscapes were among Hunster’s favorite subjects as he maintained an artistic practice while teaching art in Washington, DC’s Black public schools from 1875-1922. Though he moved to the District intending to stay only until he earned enough to study in Paris, his path took a turn when Superintendent George F.T. Cook recognized Hunster’s promise and convinced him to teach drawing for the 1875-76 school year.
For the next forty-eight years, Hunster cultivated opportunities for generations of students to learn how to draw, a skill that he viewed as fundamental for understanding the world. He developed, and constantly refined, a curriculum that incorporated art at every grade level, from kindergarten through Miner Normal School’s teacher training program. Students studied nature by drawing live plants, birds, and bugs from a collection that he curated for the classroom. His visionary leadership also meant the city’s Black public schools offered industrial and manual arts classes eight years before its white public schools. Most art galleries and museums banned African American visitors at the time, so Hunster created a museum within Miner Normal School and elevated the work of pupils and peers alike through well-received annual art shows.