I remember clearly the day I was first introduced to art.
I was in the fifth grade and the mom of my crush at the time came to speak to our class about famous artists and their work. I thought she was the coolest woman ever. Not only did she dress so funky cool and have an amazing job at a Milwaukee museum, but she introduced us to artists who continue to enthrall me to this day. I’m going to date myself here, but she showed us transparencies on the projector of works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Manet, and Botticelli. Sitting at my desk that day, I remember something coming alive inside of me and an excitement building deep within. That’s the day I became an art lover.
Fast forward 10 years to the first time I saw one of Claude Monet’s paintings in person. Standing before that masterpiece, my heart began to beat faster and I felt a little breathless. It was so much more vibrant and alive than any of the pictures I’d seen of his work. I stood there for at least 30 minutes just staring. I almost had to pinch myself because I couldn’t believe I could see and almost touch something so beautiful. That’s what art does though. It calls something out of us and evokes a sense of wonder, thoughtfulness, curiosity, and reflection. As Thomas Merton said, “art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”
Art in and of itself evokes something within us. Sometimes it causes us to marvel at its beauty and sometimes it causes us to recoil in distaste. I have seen plenty of pieces of art that I don’t like or haven’t understood, but still...it caused a reaction. I still don’t get much of Marcel Duchamp’s work. How a urinal hanging on a wall is considered art I’ll never know, but then again, that’s what art should do. It should cause a reaction. Aristotle once said “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
Living in Europe, I was blessed by the sheer amount of museums and galleries that I was able to visit. I had the pleasure of sitting before Picasso’s Guernica, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David, and more. Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture, Rape of Persephone, continued to give me chills even after seeing it probably a dozen times. Each of these pieces have left an indelible mark on my life. I was exposed to mediums that I’d never considered as art---Alexander Calder’s mobiles and metal work or Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes. Each time my eyes feasted on these works, a part of me was fed. I can’t fully explain it, I can only feel it when I look at art. But here’s the really great thing about art: you don’t need to go to the Louvre, the Modern Museum of Art in NYC, or any other great gallery to experience it. Art is all around us. It can be in a song, it can be in the drawing that your little one does for you, or it can be in that book that you can’t seem to put down.
Art can be intimidating, I get that. There are a lot of technical aspects to it: light, shading, movement, scale, and the like. Truthfully, I don’t know that I necessarily think about those things when viewing art, but I know what I like when I see it and I know what moves me when I see it. That’s all that art should do: it should stir in us a reaction and cause us to think. That’s why it’s so important for our little ones to be exposed to art. Not only does it open their world and eyes to beauty, but art is also known to challenge our thinking and create in us the ability to think critically.
So, to demystify art we’re going to dedicate the next several blog posts about the very subject. We’ll answer questions like: what is art, how do you view art, and why is art important. We’ll do this so that when your little one receives their Persevering Painters box, you can help and guide them in good conversation about art and its importance. After all, Pablo Picasso once said that "every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
If you haven’t subscribed to GIRLS CAN! CRATE yet, never fear! It’s not too late. To get the Persevering Painters box, go to girlscancrate.com by the 15th of November and sign on up. You can do it!