Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jump-Start Your Kids' Creativity in this Garage

Victor Reyes USA
Kids, Creativity and Imagination
I am reading some interesting articles about kids and creativity. Imagination keeps coming up as an integral component in nurturing creative children. That's not all of course, but something we know kids are innately good at doing. One of the wonderful things about parenting is all those "teaching moments" that arise continually during the day. The real challenge is having the energy to deal with all of them.

Artist: Interesni Kazi  Ukraine
All Those Teaching Moments
Those teaching moments can be moments of pure fun and fantasy while parking the car in a garage, believe it or not. I was recently in Detroit and had a great morning (a cold one) wandering around the Z Parking Garage and The Belt in downtown Detroit looking at some amazing art. A plaque in the garage informs us that Bedrock and Library Street Collective  teamed up to invite 27 artists from all over the world to come respond to the city of Detroit. We are reminded that throughout history, art has been celebrated as the best of humankind in action. If you live in Detroit, you're in luck. You can share these monumental, imaginative murals with your kids any time. There are two garages, each with ten levels. There is a large mural on the lower side of the level and a smaller related artwork by the elevator at the top.

Jump-starting Creativity
How is this jump starting creativity? These murals will stimulate any kid's imagination and you can help. I am going to include a number of images from the garage and give you some ideas of of questions/conversations that might be fun and stimulating. Then include some activities with pencil and paper to follow up on those conversations. Might be helpful if you too took a quick shot of each wall to help you remember after you're home.

Artist: Interesni Kazki (Level 9) Ukraine
Experts' Advice
Museum educators do this kind of thing all the time. When I first saw this video a few years ago I was so inspired. These are not necessarily new ideas, but this short video shows museum educators very comfortable with this approach and the clip is very informative. This specific approach is known as Visual Thinking Strategies. You will see this is appropriate for both kids and adults.

Visual Thinking Strategies
Philip Yenawine wrote Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines (2013):
“VTS uses art to teach visual literacy, thinking, and communication skills—listening and expressing oneself. Growth is stimulated by several things: looking at art of increasing complexity, answering developmentally based questions, and participating in peer group discussions carefully facilitated by teachers.” (19) (and parents KH)
The Basics
What are the basics of this approach? It's simply asking these kinds of questions and then following up. Obviously having the questions developmentally appropriate is key here.
  1. What’s going on in this picture?
  2. What do you see that makes you say that?
  3. What more can we find?
Back to the Garage Art

Artists: Dabs Myla (Level 5)  Australia
This one has some of my favorite characters from Z Parking. Who ever imagined an argyle pig/rat? What is it? There's more from these artists. These murals are very large and I am focusing on small sections in these photos.

Artists: Dabs Myla Australia Level 5
This is some of the most overtly kid-friendly art in the Garage. These artists work with vibrant, bold colors and flat surfaces.
I like to tell kids I think every art object tells a story. If this picture tells a story, what in the world is it?

Artists: Dabs Myla Australia Leve
This critter lives right under the monkey. What you can't see here is the TV screen that is emitting this light that has dazzled it. These are just snips of each of the murals. I was not really able to capture any one completely. One reason you need to go see them for yourselves.

The Most Imaginative?
Have you ever seen a building/face/insect? Look at the beautifully delicate wings. What would that feel like? If you were a building/face/insect, what would you look like? Draw it.

Artist: Interesni Kazki (Level 9) Ukraine
I keep on wanting to identify favorites then I realize they were all amazing for different reasons.

Artist: Interesni Kazki (Level 9) Ukraine
If I had a guy sitting on my hat, who would I want it to be? What if I didn't like the idea, what could I do about it? Would you want him to be sitting quietly or dancing around?

Art from Diverse Cultures

Artist: Edgar Flores Mexico (Level 7)
We have seen the work of artists from Ukraine and Australia, but this work is the most reflective of the artist's culture. Edgar Flores is Mexican. Who is this girl? Why is she wearing a mask? I am a huge fan of the rich, vibrant colors of Mexican art which has a very robust tradition of mural painting. The Detroit Institute of Art has a whole room of Diego Rivera murals.

Artist: Edgar Flores Mexico (Level 7)
Where is he off to?

Artist: Edgar Flores Mexico (Level 7)
This is a bit more intimidating. Perhaps it's the teeth and no eyes? 

The Most Beautiful?

Gaia New York
This is one of the most beautiful in a traditional sense. These images below show you how the artists deal with the complexities of the physical space and make it work.

Gaia NYC
Gaia NYC
Plan An Imaginary Mural for Your Home
When you get home, bring out the paper and pencil and have the kids respond to their visit. See what happens. Do they combine elements from all, their favorites or focus on developing their own ideas from one specific artist?

RaiseSmartkids.com reminds us of these benefits of exposing children to art as detailed by the New York Center for Arts Education:
  • Your kid learns to think creatively, with an open mind
  • Your kid learns to observe and describe, analyze and interpret
  • Your kid learns to express feelings, with or without words.
  • Your kid practices problem-solving skills, critical-thinking skills, dance, music, theater and art-making skills, language and vocabulary of the arts
  • Your kid discovers that there is more than one right answer, multiple points of view
  • Arts introduce children to cultures from around the world
  • Arts build confidence.  Because there is not just one right way to make art, every child can feel pride in his or her original artistic creations.
 Don't pout!
Artists: Myla Dabs Australia Level 5
Not in Detroit? If you look I'm sure you can find street art in your community to get your kids thinking creatively.

Tell us about it.

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