Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Granddaughter The Art Snob

"Can I draw in my new sketch book, Grandma?" Kayla my eight year old granddaughter asks.
"Of course, it's yours to draw in whenever you like," I presented the book to her the night before our trip to the Seattle Art Museum. She has always been very creative and wants to draw or create something whenever she comes to visit.
I got the idea to bring her the other night when she was using a drawing program on my computer. Lately, her creations have reflected her preteen pop culture. I decided it would be a great time to expose her to how others have used their art to comment on their world and culture. What better way then to take her to see the Andy Warhol and Kurt Cobain exhibits currently on display at the SAM.
With sketch book in hand Kayla ran up the escalator to the first exhibit. Standing about 20 feet tall was a figure entirely composed of empty green bottles. She was mesmerized by it. She thought it looked like a robot.
"What do you like about it?" I asked her.
"It's cool! It's made all out of bottles, recycled."
"What color are all the bottles?"
"Green," she said in a like-you-don't-know-tone.
"Why do you think the artist chose to use all green bottles instead of other colors?" I asked looking for that teachable moment.
"Grandma, recycling is good for the earth. Green is the color of the earth." She said matter-of-factually. Wow, she told me. I guess she is more of an art snob then I thought.
I have always found that teaching through questions has always been far more effective then telling kids anything. For the rest of the visit when I found her lingering somewhere I would take the opportunity to ask her questions like these:
1) What did the artist use to make this? (Sometimes this required some reading)
2) Why do you think the artist chose this color?
3) How does this make you feel? (The work, Die Welle (The Wave) had a profound impact on her. There were small childrens clothes covered in ash.)
4) Do you like this? Why or why not?
5) How did the artist use light? Can you tell where the light is coming from?
6) What do you think the artist is trying to say?
Of course the questions are endless; the trick was making sure I followed her interest and attention. It was a great opportunity to make a connection with her but help her to make an emotional connection with art. Sharing this with her was priceless.

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