Art making at the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center demonstrates the vibrant results made possible by listening to the voices of young children. Art is integrated into the rich and exciting educational experiences children have when they engage with materials and with each other. Teachers welcome children’s ideas and experimentation with materials. They document the process to capture the child’s thoughts and inspiration, inviting artistic perspectives and expression belonging entirely to the child.
For young children, art making is about feeling and the sensory nature of the materials. It is about that moment when a child looks down and realizes that he or she has changed something. The paper in front of him was once white. Now it is green. Simple, yet this is one of the most amazing processes to watch. To make change, to create something where there once was nothing, is a powerful ability. Far more satisfying and stimulating than the immediate demand to apply paint to paper on an easel is the messy process of exploration. Children who are allowed to experiment develop a deep understanding of the properties of materials and how to use them to express themselves. As they get older, children learn to explore, discuss, and imagine the many possibilities that art offers and to respond with their own works of art. A focus on conversation and imagination empowers the students to speak about the broader range of art as a whole, and to reflect in thoughts, words, and art to the world around them. The most important elements of these works of art cannot always be seen in the works themselves, but in the processes by which they were created.
In the spring, the children’s work is exhibited in the Macy Art Gallery at Teachers College at our annual art exhibition. The exhibition space lends a sense of formality and seriousness for the children, and the exhibit provides an opportunity for the children to share their art with families, alumni, staff and colleagues.