Thursday, August 21, 2008

Artist Teacher-

Emma is constantly walking up to people and telling them she is an artist and that when she grows up she's going to be an artist teacher. I would not be surprised in the least if she becomes an artist teacher. She is a girl obsessed with making things...and bossing people around. From the moment she wakes up in the morning she begins working on a project (or "projeck" as she calls it). This is not the tidy, cute little preschool projeck you might be thinking of. It generally involves scissors, a ream of computer paper and takes over most of the kitchen floor. Her favorite space for creating happens to be right next to the trash can and recycling bins in the kitchen. Many times I will have to move some work in progress so that I can scrape the remains of whatever meal we've just eaten into the trash. It is sort of annoying. I tried to set her up with a little studio space near the trash can and I've been trying to encourage her to sit at her table (now called the "art table") to do her work. But old habits die hard and I still find her spread out on the floor, scissors in hand, surrounded by tiny bits and pieces of paper, crayons, glue, beads, and other objects one would not normally think of as an art supply (such as bottles pilfered from the recycling, strings, rocks, pine cones, and Rolo wrappers).
My attempt at art supply organization.

Emma sometimes reminds me of the students I taught at the Art Institute when I was a TA in grad school. I was their English teacher and they all seemed like fish out of water when they were in my class and told to make something using only words. They were much more comfortable constructing art work out of their own hair or used band aids than writing essays and short stories. I can totally see Emma fitting in with those kids and I both fear for her and am extremely proud of her talent.

When I was in grad school I used to love going to the student show at the end of each school year and seeing the work that the undergrads had produced when people like me weren't forcing them to read and write. I remember one student had taken an army of stuffed birds, hung them from the ceiling and fashioned little helmets and armor for them out of metal that she had designed and welded to fit their tiny bird bodies. It was so moving to see this fleet of birds with their protective gear, and to imagine the mind and the soul that thinks that up and is able to execute it. There was another student who made an installation that was an exact replica of a dentist's office waiting room. The student art show was like a crazy science fair gone wrong and it was just such an exciting thing to be a witness to all that creativity.

Now I feel like I'm living in my own student art show a lot of the time. Here is a picture of what our playroom looks like at the moment. I promise when we got up this morning (about an hour or so ago) everything was in its proper place. Little People in the Little People basket, Thomas Lego3s in the Thomas Lego basket, puzzles in their bin, coloring books in theirs. See that overturned white chair? It is now a mountain that the kids were scaling with their mountain climbing ropes (those yellow and purple strings on the floor). See those green bins stacked up with the strange spire on top? That's a city. And that white board balanced precariously on the windowsill? A car ramp of course. (sigh.) Here's a picture of Emma with her "baby bounce" that she made for the baby to sit in when he is born. I think it is supposed to be some kind of cross between a bouncy seat and a Bjorn. Not a bad idea really.

Sometimes I think about jumping on board the homeschooling bandwagon (everyone seems to be doing it these days), but I'm not sure if it would be such a good thing for my kids. I think Emma might turn out a little (um, how can I put this delicately) weird if she were able to stay home all day making things. I mean at some point do you sort of run the risk of being so "creative" that you can't quite function in the real world? I wonder what the girl behind the bird armour is doing now? I'm sure, like me, she has some pretty hefty student loans to pay off. Welding tiny bird fashion does not seem like it would really pay the bills.

In the end I'm really proud of Emma and her amazing powers to create. She really can't seem to help herself and so I might as well be supportive and get out of her way. That's definitely Charlie's attitude. He is probably her biggest fan. He is able to admire her vision without worrying about the mess she's making, her proximity to trash or her future college plans. I could probably learn a lot from both of them.
Emma's homemade dollhouse and road...note the perfectly good Pottery Barn Kids dollhouse in the background.


Amanda said...

I think Emma might be Amanda Blake Soule as a child:) I love that she makes her own dollhouse - the PBK one sitting behind her makes it that much more wonderful:) I love mountain climbing on a chair with strings. I love the city. I think Emma is awesome.

Jennifer said...

I think I'll start sending Emma my recycling. She'll know what to do with it!

Elizabeth said...

No!!!! Please don't! : )

Anonymous said...

Emma's creativity is fantastic. I was 100% like this as a kid. Turns out (surprise, surprise!) Boy #1 is just like this too. Actually, it WAS a big surprise (not exacly sure WHY)and I was taken aback day after day as "Project-Boy" started to emerge and I saw MYSELF over and over again. Weird really. I thought "Aw, crap. Being creative didn't really get me much in life." other than an (to some) enviable label.

But really, its very wonderful. These children can entertain themselves for hours on end with very little. If "Project Boy" has me locking the trash can cabinet for some peace of mind, I think he's probably doing OK. It's just me who has to learn to deal. But I am still wondering when I'll discover my last piece of stray scotch tape.. and won't have to randomly pick and peel the stuff anymore.

It's a special struggle when he wants to MAKE EVERYTHING instead of buy it. Eggplant for dinner: "We can get some seeds..." a bicycle: "First we'll need some metal.." on and on and on...

Anonymous said...

Ps: we love this for organizing...|3|ARTS%20%20CRAFTS%20DEPARTMENTS|333367|COLLECTION|333418|333418-P2