All Children Are Born Artists
The month of March is Youth Art Month – an annual observance to emphasize the value of art education for all children and to encourage support for quality school art programs. one might ask, what is so important about art that we need an annual event to observe it?
If we sit and observe whenever little kids draw, finger paint or play, it’s intriguing how they seem without self-doubt, judgment or fear of doing it wrong. A preconceived expectation of the end product doesn’t seem to play a role in what they are engaged in and in that moment they simply get lost in the doing of it. It’s as if they approach their art, free of inhibitions and with an openness to take risks, experiment and most importantly have fun. It’s as if being fully present in the moment and entering that space of spontaneity, comes so easily.
I recently spoke to someone who runs a local community art school. She shared with me that they had noticed a decreased attendance in their children’s art classes. When I asked why, she speculated that it was the result of kids being less and less encouraged to do art for the sake of the experience and for play. Instead, in order for parents to feel they were getting their money’s worth they were expecting their kids to produce a nice finished product at the end of each class. If the art piece resembled something out of preschool, their child must not be learning something valuable.
Is it possible that in this day and age of video games and computers, where shapes are colored within the clean lines of digital images, we’ve suppressed the urge to color outside of the margins? Are our children losing touch of their innate nature to create something in the mud, draw in the sand and venture down the road of their own imaginations? Is the art of trial and error no longer valued?
As we “grow up” the courage to create slowly moves into the background of our lives and we measure what we produce with labels of “Success” or “Fail” with nothing in between. We develop an apprehensiveness towards taking risks and the fear of doing it wrong keeps us from looking foolish in the process. Is learning to suppress free expression, suppressing our own imaginative instincts that we were naturally born with when we first entered this world?
“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
I once heard a grade school teacher encourage parents to, “Praise the effort rather then the outcome.” We often have the bad habit of discounting the process in it self. Undermining the steps in the middle that hold moments of exploration while focusing too much on the end product. If we approach our careers or our art giving value to the effort perhaps we will resurrect the courage to create; remembering what it was like to drenched our fingers in paint and draw out of the lines.
Sir Ken Robinson said it best, the ecology of our education will need to change and adapt. Art and creativity will need to take an active and central role for this world to develop and the only way we can do it is by seeing our children for the hope that they are.