May 17, 2004

Show and Share '04

This post represents the first collaborative project at and, in regards to the quality of the artists involved, sets a high benchmark for all future endeavors. The works above are the creations of the fourteen 4 and 5 year olds in Mrs. P’s and Mrs. F’s pre-school class.

During a January visit to Arizona, I became the subject of “Show and Share” for my host family’s daughter at preschool. As a result, Mrs. P and her assistant, Mrs. F, suggested the possibility of the kids seeing one of the drawings my young hostess described to her class. One such drawing was selected and, soon, an inspired project was underway.

Who better to collaborate with than the youngest artists among us?

While I made inkjet prints to offer in service to each student’s creativity, Mrs. P used the internet to improvise an ingenious series of lesson plans dedicated to art. She introduced these fresh, four and five year old minds to some of the varied ways people have seen and represented the world by researching on-line and printing images of various artist’s works and styles. (Now, that is teaching!)

Each week, a new artistic tradition would swirl into the classroom: The Cubism of Picasso prompted the use of circles, squares and triangles to form faces, trees and fruit bowls; Calder’s mobiles were simulated with pipe cleaners and construction paper; looking at Braque offered an ocassion to make collages; upon learning about Leonardo Da Vinci, the students drew their own take on the Mona Lisa.

The Seurat presentation on Pointillism resulted in dot drawings from the students and, later, prompted one of them to remark to her mother, “Look Mommy, there’s little dots in the tv just like the painter we talked about today...pointy.”

The desert landscape of the original drawing is a depiction of these childrens’ home minus the human footprint. Its complexity and detail motivated Mrs. P to have the children work on their pieces over the course of a couple of months. This process brought a refined element to the childrens’ work that we usually think of as being uniquely adult: resolution.

Every week or two, their “artist’s drawings” would be brought out and the kids would continue their work, discovering new details, taking their time. The result is a rarity, an extended work from each five year old completed in the “Masterpiece” tradition - unhurriedly, over a protracted period of time.

The diverse approaches among these fourteen young artists represent pure examples of Action Painting: an artmaking practice where meaning is most reliably discovered and conveyed in capturing the movement of the body. For us as viewers, tracking those pivoting elbows and investigating hands over the surface of each piece rekindles our own bodies and hearts to the same liberty of color-filled expression. From broad sweeps of the shoulder that yield energetic “scribbles” all the way down to each carefully rendered issuance from the fingertips, beauty is a function of variety.

Today’s post is an honor. I love every one of these drawings with totality and delight. My thanks to the artists and all those who enabled this happy turn of events. Anything else I might say is superfluous. These young artists speak with perfect eloquence, themselves.

Posted by mark at May 17, 2004 12:11 AM

Mark!!!! This is so incredibly beautiful....I want to wake up A and O and show this to them now...(unfortunately it is 10PM). I can't wait for A's reaction tomorrow morning!! Will write again then with Her words.
Thank you for sharing your art with these children and posting their addition to your site.

Posted by: Kristy at May 17, 2004 01:35 AM

I just viewed each and every one of these beautiful pieces, Front and Verso!!! What an energetic presentation....

Posted by: K at May 17, 2004 01:37 AM

hi mark
thank you for sharing your drawings. i love the art.

Posted by: ally at May 17, 2004 11:32 AM

Hi Mark,

Thanks for all your hard work in coordinating this presentation. I can't wait to hear what the kids think. I have always taught my class, that all art is beautiful.....and it really shows in their individual drawings. Thanks again, Lauren

Posted by: Mrs. P at May 17, 2004 05:15 PM

Hi, Mark,

What a splendid posting! The paintings show great liveliness and enthusiasm. Those young artists will long remember the collaboration and the encouragement they received from their visiting artist from New York. You have "sparked" the artist in each one.

Well done!

Posted by: S & G at July 5, 2004 09:54 PM