The Joy of Creativity

The true purpose of arts education is not necessarily to create more professional dancers or artists. It is to create more complete human beings who are critical thinkers, who have curious minds, who can lead productive lives. Art for children and by children doesn’t need to be overly complicated, yet, simplicity of imagination won’t cut it. Art needs to speak to them in a relatable way. Long story short, let the kids paint on the wall as part of their self-directed art projects.

For obvious reasons. my children's current favorite art activities are tied with Here Comes Ingo, a wonderful picture book that engages them directly via painting and drawing ON the page in order to “write” the story based on their imagination. The book has given rise to one too many art projects in our household yet I have embrace it all in the spirit of encouraging a rare balance of subtlety and ebullent self-expression which gives budding young artists a boost of confidence while also encouraging spontaneity in their artistic expression.

Art is a way to encourage reflection, innovation and creativity. In this sense, when kids are encouraged to express themselves in creating artworks they develop a sense of accomplishment as well as a sense of pride in their own forays into new territory. Yet, when it comes to young children it is often easy to dismiss their creations as simple arts&crafts projects. Art, especially Process Art allows children to experiment with their own ideas and art materials with no known outcome in order to help them think openly, create new meaning, be more tolerant of others’ differences and have the courage to take creative risks. Furthermore, open ended creativity becomes a sturdy bridge into social interaction and collaborative experiences by making connections between what is learned (through art) and the personal experiences.

Personal favorite: Learning Through Art (LTA), an artist residency program supported by the Guggenheim Museum, cultivates student creativity by designing sustained, process-oriented art projects that support learning across the curriculum. The program sends experienced teaching artists into New York City public schools, where they collaborate with classroom teachers to develop and facilitate art projects integrated into the school curriculum. During the 20-week in-school residencies, participating students examine, discuss, and create works of art and are challenged to think critically about art and ideas. At the end of the residency, selected student works are exhibited in the annual A Year with Children exhibition held at the Guggenheim Museum.