If you were to walk into one of our summer camps, the noise level might take you by surprise. While we often think of art as a quiet or introspective activity, our approach to artmaking with kids is anything but tranquil.
Pablo Helguera—a New York-based artist and the Director of Adult and Academic programs at MoMA—has said that education should be about emphasis on process, on dialogue and exchange, and on human relationships. While he probably didn’t have kids summer camps in mind when he said this(!), it’s an idea we take to heart.
In all of our education programs—summer camps included—our educators strive to encourage exchange between participants: about art, about their own creative ideas, and about the world as they see it. Our programs focus less on the outcome and more about the process along the way—building a chatty environment is a big part of that, not only to foster participants’ confidence in their creative thinking capacities, but because without this exchange, as Helguera reminds us, art simply can’t exist. As we like to remind parents, a little raucousness goes a long way!
We recently spent the day tie-dyeing in our summer camps. A summer classic, tie-dye never disappoints—kids are inevitably thrilled with the results and the process is a lot of fun.
Kids’ amusement is as good a reason as any for an art project, but the reason we return to tie-dying again and again has more to do with what the process models, encouraging children to experiment with materials, to make choices—often blindly—and be comfortable not knowing what their finished product might look like. For us, success isn’t necessarily measured by a project’s final form, but through the discovery and delight generated throughout its production.
As Sir Ken Robinson has famously said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” It’s an idea we think about often in the Galleries’ education department and one that can be a powerful revelation—having things turn out differently than expected isn’t always so terrible. Such outcomes provide a foundation on which to build confidence and creativity, to develop problem-solving skills, gain access to important forms of self-expression, and to discover new ideas. In fact, some of our greatest artistic achievements—in summer camps and otherwise!—have come from accidents, mistakes or oversights. Little bloopers like these, simple as they may seem, can really add up to create rewarding relationships with our own imaginations.
Bet you’ll never look at tie-dye the same way again!