Letters from Camp: An Insiders Perspective

Each year, the Family Experiences staff has the privilege of working with a wonderful and extremely talented group of summer camp interns. These dynamic individuals truly make up the heart and soul of our camps and are responsible not only for the day-to-day operation of the program but for also helping to make the connection between our campers and works of art something that is both enjoyable and transformative. We could not run our camps without them! This is the second in a four-part series written by our summer camp interns and reflecting on their experiences at the Museum.–JC

Over the course of a week, the students in our summer camps amass an impressive collection of their own works of art. At the end of every camp, all the children put together an exhibition to show off their masterpieces to their families.

There’s another subset of work that these children produce that typically goes unseen. They are doodles, happy accidents, free drawing exercises and many other pieces of art that are hard to classify. It’s peripheral art and it’s worth examining a bit closer.

I’ve been fortunate enough to collect some of these oddities from students over the course of the summer and, in my humble opinion, they aesthetically rival some of the more structured projects from camp. They utilize unique mediums like painted paper towels or hole-punched sheets of foil. One of the most quirky and refreshing examples came from an eight year-old named Kate, who gave me a blank book of colored tissue paper called The Book of Nothing; it’s a beautiful minimalist piece that would fit in perfectly with the DMA’s current Variations on Theme exhibition.

Juliette, aged 8, used watercolor paint on paper towels to make this untitled piece.

Ella, aged 8, used the same medium as Juliette. They both called these “abstract paper towels”.

Juliette, once again, utilized a paper towel, but used oil pastels instead of watercolor paint on this one.

Ella, using markers on paper, modeled her leaf after the leaf-like shapes in Henri Matisse’s cutout paper collages.

In a way, though, this art is not peripheral, but rather a fitting product of a child’s imagination and creativity. Teachers and parents rightfully celebrate the excellent works of art that children put forth. We should turn our attention to some of these marginal creations. This kind of output shows us that children have a constant desire to create that should be nurtured. I think it’s a good sign that children have such a voracious appetite for creativity that extends past the standard expectations of a project.

As the summer winds down and the school year starts up again, it’s important for a child to find time to exert their creative energy into miscellaneous works of art. Most of the time, all that involves is giving children the time and supplies to start creating. Encourage them to explore imaginatively without fear of looking silly or wasting their time. So let’s be aware of what is happening in our peripheral vision. You never know what kind of little treasure you’ll find.

Posted by: Andrew Palamara

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Filed under Center for Creative Connections, Children’s art, DMA Programs, Parents, Uncategorized

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