Many children who come to Kidspace may have aspirations of picture coloring and that will keep them content. Their parents may be looking for an oasis where the kids will be occupied for a few minutes and they can move on to the â€śreal artâ€ť. As an intern here for the summer I found so much more than coloring pictures and parents resting while their children ran circles around themâ€¦I found an actual childrenâ€™s contemporary art gallery.
In all honesty, the first lesson I learned here was that we do not make crafts. We make and exhibit real art at Kidspace. Kids come to the gallery to learn about art and to make a project that reflects what they have learned. When I say art, I mean challenging art that makes them think and is relative to their life. Interpretations, the current show at Kidspace, is made out of over 40,000 spools of thread hung upside down throughout the gallery. The images are reproductions of classics like the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and American Gothic. As an art student I thought it was pretty clever. As an education intern, I didnâ€™t know how we were going to talk to kids about this work. I mean at first I thought, what is a 5-year-old going to get out of this exhibit?
With these questions swimming in my head, I began preparing for my first official Kidspace tour. We broke down the work by asking kids questions such as what is a pixel and why does the art have â€ścrystal ballsâ€ť propped up in front of them? (hint, they are not to swing around on). After the kids thoughtfully examined the work that we showed them, they dug into making their own pixelated images. The things that they came up with were fantastic. Not only did some of the pixel drawings have a story behind them, but some were upside down like the artistâ€™s work, some were a copy of the Mona Lisa. Kids were starting to pick up and run with the theme of Interpretations: they were interpreting art in their own unique way.
As my time here at Kidspace wraps up, Iâ€™ll be giving a tour to a group of middle school students. Once we are done discussing American Gothic and The Girl with a Pearl Earring, I will get to watch them create inspired images. Maybe after that Iâ€™ll be more inspired in my own art. Trust me; I wonâ€™t be working on any crafts.
-Erin Dougherty, Kidspace Summer 2008 Intern
Graduate Student, Arts Education, College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN