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Art > Paper

Art is so much greater than paper or even the visual arts. Most adults know this logically and yet many of us can still fall into the trap of identifying creativity in a narrow way.

This is especially true of young children who have been immersed in the Elements of heART program. While developing their visual literacy skills throughout the semester (or school year or even summer camp since this program is flexible for a variety of timelines), many of our heARTISTS benefit from opportunities to expand their understanding and practice of art.

This adventure is about opening conversations and explorations that move creative expression beyond the page. Simple questions like ‘what other kinds of art forms might we see besides drawing and painting on paper?’ can open up new worlds.

Simply naming that “there are many different kinds of art forms” and inviting students to name them has power when discussed in community and followed up with experimental play.

Many students in our program as young as kindergarten have named music, clothing, martial arts, movies, cartoons, architecture, dancing and more. I’ll never forget during one of my first years of teaching, a kindergartner named Simon.

Simon was an astounding illustrator at only 5 years old. He came to our program with a love for comics and he naturally absorbed and applied each learning adventure to create increasing amounts of detail and complexity in his stories. While other students were content to rotate through messy/creation stations, Simon instead sought out 1:1 instruction for drawing his ideas and rarely needed more than a minute or two of guidance before he was off to illustrate a new world.

During our final classes of the year as we discussed the ways in which art is integral to our lives, I’ll always remember looking over at Simon during a discussion from Art> Paper. He was sitting on his knees soaking in our last community circle. His eyes were wide and he was looking around the room as our conversation unfolded.

“Look around, everyone! Everything is art! Art is everywhere!”

It was almost as if each of us were able to see anew through his perspective; as if everything had been gray and suddenly, color poured across every poster, book and surface in the room as we took in his revelation. He elaborated on his aha to the benefit of his fellow kindergarten artists: “Someone made the desks and chairs and shelves. Every book and poster was made by a person. It’s all art!”

Even the building itself was transformed into a giant piece of art that housed our electric connections.

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