Do you wonder what children think? How they feel about themselves, their friends, families and the culture they grow? I didn’t know these answers would inspire me until they started pouring into my life during a Pop uP Studio session in a local Public School.
I was invited to spend the Day with the 2015 5th grade class at Tanglewood Elementary. The day is focused on Art, the children move from room to room engaging in projects created from outsiders; museums, artist and parents in order to supplement the exposure these children have access during their normal curriculum.
I started this project like I’ve started the ones before with getting in touch with the collaborative artist I would share my studio. Details of breaking down the project to run the process 4x in one day in order to capture all 105 child artist brush strokes. While keeping one canvas authentic for each group.
With the goal to create a legacy art project dreamed to hang in the school, the mission was defined…What Matters? When I invited each child-artist to use the paint brush as their voice and the canvas as the holder and speaker of their story, in order to capture something they would want to revisit in the far future. I posed the question; “If you only have one moment and one voice what do you want history to know about you?”
Being a mother of my own 12-year-old boy I thought I had a good handle on the data I would collect. I found my truth as the brush strokes told the tale of “Chicken Nuggets Forever”, Grades, Friends, Family, Technology, Sports, Dance and the symbols continued to be expressed.
What I learned from 9-12 year olds, is that being young can feel hard but mostly it’s about still being connected to ones authentic desire and first dreams. It’s a beautiful age when more freedoms of being a teenager loom in the near future however the naiveté of childhood remains intact. I loved that I had to remind these expressive artist to allow space for the artist who would follow. They responded with same eagerness as they choose their stroke they too found excitement to know what their artist friends would add. I was delighted to reconnect with my 5th grade dream of being a “dancer.” I think Freud would agree my sub conscious was proclaiming my strong desire to do something expressive and creative, a metaphor to my current life. However, I had to travel so far away from the girl who declared this dream before I found her back in the forefront of my mind. My 5th grader knew more about my destiny than most of the years in my adult life. Which poses an additional question; As adults what can we do to assist children to keep their dreams intact though the undulation of childhood?
While finalizing this work my son’s critic indulged me into deeper meaning. As he scanned and shared he found amusement in tiny logo tucked between other familiar symbols to which summarized the wealth of wisdom I received on this day. A theme caught on canvas, the overall motto of this group of children was clear the collective consciousness roars out “You Only Live Once” make it matter! Yolo-Brandi C.
This work and other community pieces can be seen on display at Brandi C. Art Studio West 7th Fort Worth, Texas. Prints of this piece can be purchased at www.brandicottingham.me
Proceeds of this piece create funding for the creation of community Art projects. Contact Brandi if you have an event or group who may benefit from accessing the creative consciousness and expressing life onto canvas.