How do we teach a child to look at art? When showing artworks to my younger students, they often have an immediate reaction to the works. The typical responses are along the lines of “Oh wow! It’s beautiful I love it!” or “What is this? I don’t like it!” There is rarely an in-between. I always enjoy watching their reactions, and it reminds me of how art can evoke a variety of responses. The question is, how do we probe children to understand art beyond their immediate like or dislike?
Many artists spend large amounts of time by themselves and work alone in their studios. Louise Bourgeois was an artist that emphasized the importance of solitude to the creative process. It was during periodic breaks of solitude that Bourgeois was truly able to connect with her most authentic feelings which later transpired into her iconic body of work. Solitude was medicine to her anxiety. These silent retreats provided her with a sense of safety and calmness. In fact, Bourgeois consider her art as her salvation – the only way of escaping what she had experienced in her childhood.
Even the youngest children can sense distraction. Working on being in the present has been increasingly more beneficial in today’s modern society. I grew up in Singapore - a society where a children take up many after-school activities and childhood stress common. How often do our children pause to think, look around and listen; and cultivate more awareness of their bodies and their surroundings? It is important for us to create an environment for children to practice mindfulness, supporting their growth as they mature from babies to toddlers to children.