Art in Motion was the first in the Learning to Look series that I ran at the Harrison Public Library. It was aimed at kids ages 6-12 but was designed to also be interesting to any caregivers or parents that accompanied them to the session. The topic was the ways turn of the 20th century artists depicted movement. The objectives were to familiarize the kids with the major concerns of the Impressionist and Italian Futurist movements and to introduce the process of formal visual analysis.
Of the whole series, I think this one went the best. The first painting was clearly representational and they really got into looking at the formal elements of the painting and how they come together to tell a story. The second painting is more abstract, but was chosen because it features a train to tie in to HPL's popular "Train Time" programming which draws a lot of folks from the community. Kids love trains. Once the train was found in the morass of colors and shapes, they got excited about identifying and analyzing the formal elements. The activity portion of the hour was fun but not as effectively connected to the art as I would have liked. The craft prompt was to draw or create something that they thought invoked movement with the suggestion that they think about a time in their lives where there is a lot of motion like getting ready in the morning or recess. Most of the kids went the path of just making whatever they felt like. However, it doesn't feel like a total failure because the kids had fun.
In assessing the success of the event, I am proud to say that both the parents and the kids got involved. The kids started using a lot of the formal vocabulary in identifying the elements of the painting over the course of the hour and the parents got involved by asking questions about the artists and the context of the paintings. The kids asked probing questions about the context as well and, in the case of the first image, were able to construct the concerns of the art movement from the formal elements of the painting with little prompting. The futurist painting was a little more challenging but they grappled with it really well. In the future, I would more clearly direct the activity, perhaps by limiting the materials available for crafting, to encourage them to do the activity as designed. I want it to still be open ended, especially for the younger kids, but I also want to drive home the concerns of the movements through the activity.
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