Special Guest Posts
Our World's Young Artists
Zahra Yousaf-Zaman’s Artwork
Submitted by her parents Saminaz (Bangladeshi-American) and Ali (Pakistani-British)
“Art is a wonderful way for even the youngest child to communicate and express themselves. It helps them use their imagination, create and play on their own. Last year, Zahra spent a night in the emergency room after she fell off her bed. One of the most important tests that the doctor performed was also the simplest. He asked Zahra to draw a picture. It looked like some squiggles and shapes but when my frightened and drowsy baby happily seized the crayon and explained that she had drawn Hatshepsut, her favourite pharaoh, I knew that she was okay.
Art education and creativity in the classroom is crucial. At home, Zahra paints, colours with crayons and pencils, plays with clay and builds with Lego. Her teachers next year hopefully can introduce her to projects and materials that I can't imagine. They can connect art to subjects in their curriculum and help children collaborate while they create. Right now, in the United States, the emphasis is on STEM (or science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the classroom. I think art is as important and I think it also contributes to a better understanding of STEM concepts like design, proportion and geometry."
This picture is very important to Saminaz and Zahra. Here’s why: “I had to take an important phone call and when Zahra wanted to play, I handed her a piece of paper, what she calls an ‘empty page’ and some crayons. I did not have high expectations. I thought I would have to turn on the television any second. Instead, she was quiet. When I was finished with the call, she showed me what she had drawn. She said it was a picture of me, her grandmother, and herself. Each of us held a flower. I was very surprised and moved. I recently lost my mother and have become very unmoored as a result. I would talk to my mother several times a day. I could not imagine a world without her and I still find it very difficult to live in that world. Because of my mother’s illness, Zahra has had to spend a disproportionate amount of time in hospitals. I know that children are resilient and the bad memories will fade from her memory.Yet I don't want Zahra to forget her grandmother and the picture somehow reassured me that there she was – somewhere in Zahra's heart and her mind. The picture was as therapeutic for me to view as it was fun for her to draw.”
Mayra Sonntag’s Artwork
Submitted by parents Rebecca and Ekkardt Sonntag (Germany)
“Art is a channel of expression and it complements words, music, gestures. I would love my children to explore different ways of expressing themselves, feel confident in using them and spend time finding themselves, which channels express them best. Our life is so full of structures and processes from early on but art gives a wonderful contrast. There is no right or wrong in art and our children can feel free to do whatever they want. Knowing that – and even more doing that from a very young age – I believe is a blessing.
We believe school should help prepare our children for life in manifold ways. While preparing them academically for work life, children should also be encouraged in their creativity and freedom of expression. Hereby we honour the different talents of our children and don’t fall into the trap of overrating academic achievements.
Having been brought up in the German education system, we ourselves were encouraged to question and to learn independently. Rather than give the ‘right’ answers, we also want our children to be able to ask good questions and explore different ways of finding answers. Encouraging our children in their individual expression of creativity through art helps them to confidently walk creative, different paths later on in their family or work situations. They are given alternative ways of communication and expression and also feel the power of creating something new and beautiful. The more different materials, textures and colours the better!"
Submitted by PinkTaxiBlogger, Dubai,
United Arab Emirates
“I am not an art mother in the proper sense of the term. While my children participate in art activities and I encourage them to do so, what I am is an art appreciator and historian and I have educated my children to share my passion.
We live surrounded by art. We seek it, we travel for it, we are intensely pursuing the next show or revisiting the classic collections. We hoard books on art, we discuss artists, we photograph, point and question.
We is myself, a single mother and her three children. I am an Arab and my children Afghan. However, we are French educated and I took many Art history classes in my American higher education as well as my Swiss courses.
French literature and history books are littered with art illustrations. My children study poetry and history with their eyes familiarized with art. These photographs are discussed as documents. They are now 14,10 and 8 years old and they recognize the famous painters, sculptors and architects because they have been exposed to them academically.In fact, history of art is part of high school curriculum and my eldest did very well on the state exam, which covered film, museums, architecture, music, sculpture and painting. He was tested on the Louvre, its satellites and their activities.
My discovery of art is a long voyage and I take my children along. They don't seem to notice as it is incorporated in their lifestyle the same way sports is. We will stop by an art gallery casually, we will play in a park next to a Henry Moore, we will run to a square because there is a Kapoor, we will take a train ride to see the Richard Serra show, we will attend Art Dubai because of the electric vibe. I will explain why I love Opie or Vasconsuelos. I will point to the enormous Venet's in Nice and explain his background. I will always ask them to approach art, to explain it to me, to tell me how they feel. We will cross the Zaha Hadid Bridge and shout her name or make the detour to see that LeCorbusier residential building and don't you love the Index building in Dubai by Foster?
I will show them the technique of Pollock, or repeat the vocabulary specific to cathedrals. I will explain the relevancy of a Delacroix painting or the specifics of Islamic architecture. They will meet the painters, they will visit sculptors in their studios. I bring them along, passionate as I am, to learn with them."
|Snakes or Ladders? Sadek Alfraji at AyyamGallery Dubai (PinkTaxiBlogger)|
|At the park with Bernar Venet in Nice (PinkTaxiBlogger)|
Matthew Salfity's Artwork
Submitted by Sonia and Marwan Salfity
"Art is so important at a young age because it provides the child with a different outlet and a safe place to express their thoughts and feelings, their joys, their fears and anxieties.
Art education and creativity in the classroom is essential to exposing a child to a wide variety of art. As each child's masterpiece is different and unique, it's beneficial for the child to understand that there's no right or wrong way to do art! That knowledge and discovery in and of itself opens the floodgates of their creativity and gives them a boost in their confidence and self worth."
Ishan, Arjun and Rohit's Artwork Submitted by their grandmother Sheela Sheth (India)
|The Christmas countdown from Rohit, a Valentine's message from Arjun with fingerprints and a sea turtle by Ishan|
Omar & Shareef Schwarten
Submitted by Laura Haddad (Jordanian-American) and Oliver Schwarten (German)
I quiver when I recall my early childhood education. Teachers would look for that one “right answer” and I would find myself fearful of being wrong. I didn't have an outlet for self-expression. I felt increasingly shameful as my questioning was met with either ridicule or contempt. My questions, much less my opinions, were nowhere valued. I eventually stopped entertaining my own ideas.
This is not the education I want for my children. To be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, they should make mistakes. And not just to learn from mistakes so they don't make them again... mistakes can in themselves be opportunities - maybe a chance to question conventional wisdom and realize it was not a mistake to begin with or see the beauty in the mistake and discover another path worth exploring. This is what art education can unleash.
I love how art can serve the Perfectionist who has to make every line and every curve just so while also serving the Nonconformist who blurs the lines, softens the edges and evades the rules. Our world is in need of both.
As someone who's studied and worked in diverse fields and across cultures, I know the importance of making your own mark and unleashing your creative potential. Art nurtures these skills and ways of
Here, Omar embraces Shareef in front of our Whirling Dervish piece. Omar particularly likes this because "the poetry pops out"!
Beautiful Oops! uses interactive pop-ups, lift-the-flaps and other forms of three-dimensional tools to show us the opportunities that come from making mistakes. The book tackles different “oops” and shows what they may become.
The Dot is about a frustrated girl in art class. "I just can't draw!", she says. Her teacher's response, "Just make a mark and see where it takes you" is a takeaway for all of us! Read the book to see what comes of Vashti's "dot"!
Some more of Omar's artwork from school
Shareef's artwork from Book n' Brush preschool