When is it time to teach art appreciation?

Little Collector LogoAs an artist, I always want to share what I do. Of course that means having an audience that can appreciate what I'm trying to show. That often means that I'm making assumptions about what my audience understands. A parody on a famous artwork will fall flat if the viewer is unaware of the original creation. This became painfully obvious to me one day a year ago when my daughter, then six years old, came home from school and asked me if I knew that someone besides me had created Mona Lisa. I had shown her plenty of famous artwork. We had discussed many famous pieces. I guess we had just never discussed Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. It was an excuse to talk more about famous art.  I immediately pulled out more of my art parodies and then the original work that I based my creations on. We grabbed my laptop and searched for more parodies of the same works. And then, with her interest in art growing, we were able to start looking at other original art and found things she really enjoyed.  We looked at art by kids, art for kids, and then art that wasn't intentionally kid-oriented. Kelly and I even turned my collection of parodies into a book to help introduce other kids to art in the same fashion. (No, that book isn't published yet.  We'll get there eventually.)

I was recently introduced to a new project that's all about sharing art with kids. Little Collector, led by art advisor and independent curator Chrissy Crawford, has the goal of making child-friendly art affordable, and therefore part of the lives of so many more kids. (As I write this, the web site is just a holding page for the official site which will be live next month. But you can see some of the art available on their facebook page.) I am honored that I was invited to be one of the artists included at launch (among names like Shepard Fairey and Cynthia Rowley). In anticipation of the upcoming web launch, many of the artists attended a public preview party a few days ago. Those of us that were able to take part talked with parents and kids about our art and inspiration. It was a blast. Kids showed up with all levels of art knowledge. Parents showed up with an interest in expanding their kids' appreciation of art. For me, the party was a blast, largely because of the kids I got to talk to. But there was a piece of me that felt just like one of the kids. I was excited to speak with a bunch of other artists, and learn about their art along with the little art collectors in attendance. Chrissy, thanks for making me part of this. I'm looking forward to future events.

On a related note, a few of you may notice that some prints have been pulled from the Airigami store. That's because I'm in love with the Little Collector concept and have made a few of my pieces available only from their shop. I have some new pieces I'm working on that I expect to go directly to Little Collector without a stop in my own store.

Smithsonian Magazine, American Gothic Parodies