Thursday, February 24, 2011

art start

When I was a girl my mom would love to drag me to art museums. I say drag because that's what I thought of it. My mom would have been an art historian if she could have a life do over. But me, no thank you. I even tried taking an art history class in college. I dropped out after a week. Slide shows of painting after painting, jotting down names and aritsts... YAWN.
If only I had a start in art appreciation like Zach is getting this year. The National Gallery of Art here in DC has these marvelous classes -- yep you guessed it-- FOR FREE that introduce little ones (and big ones who were too tuned out earlier in life to appreciate art) to the world of modern and classical art.
(The amazing work of Chuck Close. I love how all of the kids are unknowingly striking a different pose while looking & listening.)

Each class has a theme, and last week was shape and color in the east wing which holds modern works of art. We were worried that the sweet, elderly docent charged with making these paintings and sculptures come alive for a spirited group of 6-8 year olds might, well, get eaten alive by our kids. But she held court like a rock star.
(Synecdoche by Byron Kim is a grid of 400 small panels that each recreate the skin color of a friend.)

Zach was hooked from hello when she had the children gather around an Andy Goldsworthy piece and talked about the architecture of the building ("Hey mom, the gold guy from that movie we saw! He made this!" - referring to Rivers & Tides).
Our docent encouraged the kids to ask questions and express ideas and make noise and move their bodies. In short, she made art more than a static canvas, she made it come to life. (damn that professor who bored me to tears. I hope he moved on to some other career.)
(exploring the works of Alexander Calder...)
(... then she gave the kids colored wires and encouraged them to make their own Calder-esque works.)

(Making mini Matisse creations whilst in the shadows of the real thing.)
(This was my feeling when my mom used to take me to art museums. Now that I know how to do it, I'll make sure she wakes up to the beauty of it all when the time is right.)

If you come to DC, don't miss out on the galleries. If you get a group of at least 10 kids together, you can arrange a class tour of your own. And if you can't make it out here, click on over to the National Gallery of Art web page for some cool kid activities. And once again, thank you American taxpayer. And thank you mom. Now I get it.


The Ceol Mors said...

So how many mobiles do you now have hanging about the boat? :)

Joy said...

<3 I wish we lived close enough to take advantage of free kiddie art classes at a wonderful gallery like that. Elizabeth remembers the National Gallery with great fondness despite the fact it's been 5 year (eep!) since she was there. She's a serious art-hound. I wanted to take the kids to a free class at the National Gallery in London when we were there last year, but they were too beat that afternoon. One day...

Nancy said...

A friend of mine literally told me about these two days ago. They sound so cool. I will have to look into them now after seeing all your pix and hearing how good they are from you.

Anonymous said...

I love the last line. It has taken me 32 years to "get" what my mom did for me growing up.

You're quite an inspirational mom yourself!

Jessica, sacramento CA US

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