By Aja Blanc
Associate Educator for Family + Youth programs at the RISD Museum of Art
At the heart of every mindful and loving family lie the seeds of endless creativity. – Amanda Blake Soule
At the RISD Museum of Art, we love to think about ways in which children and adults can share art together as a family. Art, for all its mystery and seeming complexity, is perfectly suited for all families who wish to learn together, create shared experiences and make meaningful connections with one another. Art can be made, discussed, experienced, explored, seen, heard, collected, and appreciated. The subjective nature of expression and perception permits diverse responses to be equally valued.
Picture this: a family gathers comfortably in front of a large painting in a museum gallery. A lively discussion develops as each member of the family shares what it is they notice about the work of art. Observations begin to focus in on the facial expressions of the figure in the painting. Each family member shares what they perceive in this carefully painted face, each observation received with attentive respect and consideration. The willingness of each family member to both share and listen can create a meaningful experience for everyone involved.
In Eliot Eisner’s book The Arts and the Creation of Mind – What the Arts Teach and How it Shows (2002), he explains “the arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.” That is, when we invite children to share what they notice about a work of art or how it makes them feel, they must search themselves for the “poetic capacities” to express their observations. Adults must participate in the same process when engaging with a work of art, and when we do so with our children we model an important developmental process.
“The Artful Family” is a monthly exploration in creating meaningful experiences with art for the whole family. We need not be artists to share art with our children, simply a willingness to engage, express, observe and reflect. From activities that bring out your inner explorer to looking at art through a new pair of eyes, and from moments of quiet reflection to liberated (and sometimes messy) expression, we hope you will enjoy this ongoing look at living artfully with your family.
The Artful Family is a monthly column from the RISD Museum of Art. Each month, Kidoinfo will help introduce art and creativity into your family life. To learn more about family programs at the RISD Museum, visit the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, located at 20 N. Main Street, Providence, RI.