Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Thanksgiving Art Rant- Can You Handle THE TRUTH?

I know your kids can do better, I trust them. I know your friend's and coworker's kids are capable of greatness.

"I Won't Hurt You"
8x10 flat panel canvas

This isn't today's scheduled Thanksgiving programming. I'll get back to that tomorrow, but I do have a little rant about kid's arts and crafts:

Children's arts and crafts are abominable. There's a lack of imagination. Do not do this to your children- they can do better!

When I was 4-years-old I lived in Italy and I went to an Italian after-school program which I called "The Peter Pan School".
(While attending I bit my teacher, but that's another story...)

"Pumpkin Number Two"
2.5 x 3.5 acrylic on canvas

We did some crafting, but we made classy stuff my mom keeps out as decor to this day. Finger-painting and hand-turkeys they were not!

I theorize this has to do with Italian culture:

There was no room for extraneous crap when extended families lived under one roof. With so little space, if you're going to display kid's art- it better look good.

Italian crafts are traditional. They have an old-world, classical flavor. They seem destined to last: 

  • Art featured rich earth tones and bold color
  • I remember gold details; gold paint, gold foil
  • Holiday crafts took ques from nature
  • Materials included wood, moss, pine cones, and cork
  • Paintings always seemed to be done with oil paint 

When I moved back to the 'ole US&A crafts were cheesy, and they were fun to make. Don't cut them out completely. Yet, I know children can make beautiful art. Left alone to fill a canvas with dignity I've seen untrained children create amazing work.

Children's crafts that are artfully done can double as a holiday displays for years to come. Now that is truly thrifty.

What Holiday crafts do you remember making? If you have kids, what crafts do you make with them now?

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  1. Hello, there. My best friend is an artist who has traveled abroad and she would whole-heartedly agree with you on this. The America ideal of regurgitated children's "crafts" are so, so boring. Turkey hands? Come on! After all these years, that's all we have? No one has thought of anything new and more creative than that...!?

    A few years ago I interviewed a local zine creator and community activist. She hosts a sort of alternative scholastic program where she encourages parents to home-school their children if able. Bt if not, they are welcome to stop by her community arts center, where the children make their own magazines and tell stories and tend to the community garden. I love this idea so much! I either:

    A) Want to be kid again.
    B) Have a little one of my own to educate on alternative arts.

    Very inspiring!

  2. I’m already following your neat blog from Wednesday Welcome. I want to wish you & your family a great autumn! Check out my new Facebook fan page with inspiring quotes.

  3. Jackie, that's a very inspiring story. When I look at colorful elementary school classrooms with their little desks and chairs I want to be a kid again. I remember feeling complete zen with crayons and art supplies in my hand. No pressure, no worries, just creativity!

    I feel the same way. I either want to be a kid again or start a community arts center which has a community garden and ample art supplies. I have day-dreamed about this.

    But there has to be a rule: "Unruly children will be fed to the sharks!"

  4. I worked with a six year old this year and we made art inspired by Monet, Magritte, and Louise Nevelson as well as every day random fun and coloring. We're talking about found art sculpture...hammers, nails, saws, spray paint. TWO OF THEM, 'cause her parents are divorced.

  5. Fenn: That is...amazing! In elementary school I had some art teachers that didn't talk down to us and taught us to be inspired by the Great artists. I will always remember them and appreciate their honesty.

    Best of all, kids eat it up. My nieces absolutely love learning about artists and techniques. They love drawing and painting with me. (They do not draw "hand-turkeys" in my presence.)

  6. -Sigh- and alot depends on the teacher, too. If kids are encouraged to explore and experiment, you just never know what they'll come up with!

  7. have you seen that artist woman? it's a blog full of really wonderful ideas and tutorials.

    i agree, i don't think there's anything wrong with turkey handprint crafts, but putting our own limits on what *we* think kids can do (or should do) gets in the way of their own creative spirit, which is so strong at a young age.

    great post.

  8. Also, It has a lot to do with how much teachers in the U.S. get payed. We are not florence nightingale and do this for free out of the goodness of our hearts you know. So maybe they should pay us our worth and maybe we'd have more materials and INSPIRATION to teach your brats all the stuff that we know, so FU with your one sided italian bullshit.

    1. Yeah, and Anonymous, that is part of the problem - we have teachers like you who obviously don't like children. Don't insult all the other teachers out there who enjoy teaching and are not bitter. You have a choice.


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