The way that adults view children’s art differs greatly from how they would view that of another adult, someone who they respect as an artist. When they see the work of an artist they appreciate it, respect it, and value it in a way that unfortunately doesn’t always exist when looking at the work of children. Because of this, a walk through a museum looks much different than a walk through the classroom. Instead of being awed and amazed by the thought provoking creations on display, adults tend see something “cute” or “sweet” instead, devaluing children’s work without even realizing they are doing so. With most of children’s art, the thing adults really see is product and not everything that work actually represents.
Think about the times that you have noticed children’s art, maybe your own child’s or even someone else’s …. What did you see?
Did you see dots or new beginnings? Colors or emotion? Scribbles or a story?
Something we tend to forget when we look at children’s art is that there is so much more to it than what appears at a surface level. Within each child’s art is the moment where they were inspired, where they started imagining and inventing. There is experimentation and trial and error, the introduction of new materials or new techniques, and all those moments where the child must start again because their work doesn’t quite match their vision. What we don’t always notice is the skill, thought, and reflection that goes into these artists work.
Each one of these things is part of the process, part of the feelings and ideas and risks that go into creating something new. It is in this process where the child is most active, where their connection to the materials is the strongest, and where parts of the child are open to anyone willing to take the time to really see. These are the things that are hardest to see when we look at children’s art, but also the parts that are the most important. This is where the spirit of creativity, that true artistic spirit, thrives.
The beauty of creativity is that it can take many different forms, especially with children. For a child, each time they put their hands in something, look at a material in a new way, take a risk, or connect on a deep emotional level with one of the many artistic languages, they are exercising their unique creativity. As they dance, paint, build, sing…. they unleash a part of themselves, their emotions and thoughts, into the world. With everything they do, children are showing us who they are, what they think, and how they feel. In every creative moment they experience, the child is an artist.
The work that you see each time you walk through a classroom or past a child deep in any process is a reflection of the experiences they’ve had, a window into their lives as an artist. It is a chance to appreciate not only the work that children are capable of doing, but also an opportunity to appreciate each child for the creative masterpiece that they are. Through their art and all that it encompasses, you will see the passion, curiosity, joy, and sometimes even frustration and uncertainty so many of them feel each time they pinch a piece of clay, stroke a canvas with their paintbrush, slide a bead along a wire, or push a needle through a small button hole. You will get to see what happens when children believe in, connect with, and appreciate the process of creating.
All that it takes to do this, to soak up all the incredible things children’s art is telling us, is to listen. It is in the moments when adults listen not just to children but to their work that the rest of their drawings, sculptures, or structures come to life. By tuning into these moments and opening our ears and minds, that is how we truly begin to see children as the artists they are.
Inspired by that thought, I wanted to share with each of you something that was asked of parents visiting our art auction this last year as a reminder to slow down and appreciate each child’s creative process. To them and now to you, I extend an open invitation to see children differently and to challenge current perspectives of who they are and what they can do. I invite each of you to…
Take a closer look at the children behind any creations that you see.
Appreciate the children whose hands have molded and shaped these works of art and the process that each of them went through as they poured their ideas and emotions out on to the various canvases.
Wonder alongside the children about what lead them to create and look at all the things that have inspired them.
Not just see the work they do, but to engage with it, think about it, and consider what it means for children everywhere.
See children for the thoughtful, creative, visionary spirits that they are.
Believe that children are capable of levels of creativity, imagination, and innovation that exceeds the bounds of what we as adults would even think to do.
Admire their brilliance and honor their passion.
We invite you, always, to see all children as artists.