Sunday, April 18, 2010

OPINION: Children’s Art

Readers are invited to respond to this opinion piece with reflections of their own about children’s art and what values it holds for the viewer and the community. Send your writing to one of the editors, listed at the top of the right-hand column of this blog. – Ed.

By Theodore A. Hoppe

Announcing the beginning of spring, construction paper cut-out tulips are sprouting in the stairwell leading to the children's library at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, some two dozen or so, lining the winding steps.

They made me wonder if others that saw them would consider this an art display, or merely as a form of children's art. Certainly, Matisse's simple paper cutouts are among the most admired and influential works of Matisse's entire career.

As a critic of art I question whether we have a certain attitude toward the art work of children; do we miss the simplicity and interpretive beauty it holds? More importantly, do we focus on the value of the finished product, and overlook the value of the process?

In "The Art of Teaching Art to Children," Nancy Beal, who has taught art to children at the Village Community School in New York for over 25 years, focuses in part on how to speak to children about their artwork to encourage their creative expression. Adults need to respect
children's ideas and honor their creativity. What can children do when they have the support of a caring adult? I think the answer is "more", they can create more, express themselves more, do more, with art and in life.

This also leads me to reflect about the differences in ways that we view the performing arts as opposed to the visual arts when it comes to children. We frequently hear of a child that can successfully perform a classical piece on the violin or piano and we are eager to use the word prodigy. What word comes to mind when a young artist performs Van Gogh's, "Starry Night"?

The artist, Avery, is four years old.