“And I want to be an artist when I grow up! If there’s any room for me in the artist club.”
That’s a quote from a five-year-old enjoying an extraordinary interactive piece of art called “The Sticker Room.” More about that in a moment, but first a question:
What if we could put away our pretenses, judgement, and desire to “get it,” and instead, let our minds wander when we are confronted by a piece of art? That’s what very young children do. No biases. They are just taking in life as it comes.
We’ve all probably heard the idiom “out of the mouths of babes,” but rarely do we ever listen to those mouths.
The Creator’s Project has a wonderful series called Kids Critique that gives children the chance to explore the work of contemporary artists, and then tell us about them. Here’s The Creator’s Project describing the idea on their site:
The art world can be a difficult place—between the lingo, the hype, and the barriers to entry, even the most intimate artworks can seem remote and unapproachable, with the results leaving viewers feeling alienated and cold. It often takes a special kind of mind to cut through the centuries of big ideas and even bigger egos. Sometimes, it takes the mind of a child. With The Creators Project’s new series, KIDS CRITIQUE, we’re taking children to contemporary art exhibitions to find out what happens when major artworks meet minors. 1
In this first episode, the kids critique Yayio Kusama’s Give Me Love exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City.
And now, without further ado, Kids Critique…
When I saw this for the first time, sitting in a café, some of these kids had me laughing latte out of my nose! (Much to the chagrin of my closest neighbor…)
What I think is most important about this video is that the children are saying things that most of us are likely thinking when we first see works of contemporary art! We are confused, then our brains make crazy connections. For many of us, we stop once we hit the crazy connection stage, thinking “How absurd!” or “I’m not sophisticated enough to figure this thing out!” or “I give up, this is weird…”
Any of those reactions are reasonable, and whether we are a fluent art nerd, or a self-proclaimed art hater, these kids can teach us to push past our impulsive first moments of judgment to get to a place where we can experience art differently.
Without our pretenses, judgement, and desire to “get it,” we could allow ourselves to experience more joyful wonder in the presence of things we don’t understand.
I think that all too often we want to “win” going to the gallery, or looking at a piece. We want to know what the artist was thinking, get what the artist was trying to create, or come up with some interpretation of what we are seeing. But is art something that can be ‘won’?
Art analysis for the road…
Try this next time you find yourself wanting to turn away from a piece of artwork you find too weird, or even one you find below your artistic sensibilities: Stop, react, push past the first impulse, and let your mind wander where it will, without judgment. Perhaps you are looking at an abstract jumble of stripes, and suddenly through the power of your grey matter you are transported to a country road, striped by the shadows of winter trees made long by a low setting sun.
Whatever journey your brain goes on, follow it, and see where it leads. You never know, it might just make an art lover, or at least liker of you!
And here’s an EWC better question: What if we could put away our pretenses, judgement, and desire to “get it,” not just with art, but with people and problem-solving?
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge
Liesl can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV