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Art: A Part of Who We Are

by Deber Klein on 12/12/2008 9:03:44 AM

Today's Post is by artist, Deber Klein, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  Find out how you can be a guest author.

The Young Artists of Happy Hearts Kindergarten

The basement of the old church was cool and damp, and smelled of concrete mingled with fresh baked sugar cookies. Every step of my little Saddle Oxford shoes could be heard echoing down the narrow cement stairway at 9:00 each weekday morning, and then heard again while going back up with the noonday sun directly overhead. The only windows that I can remember were high and small, so it was dark and sometimes spooky -- especially when walking alone down the long hallway which led to the bathroom. However, that hallways's walls, being dressed with ever changing brightly colored artwork, made my journey far less threatening. These welcoming works were created by the young artists of the Happy Hearts Kindergarten.

While learning the ABC's was an important part of the school's curriculum, "The Arts" were definitely a high priority at Happy Hearts. My favorite activity was daily art time, which was preceded by the ceremonial opening of my most treasured, eight color Prang Crayon Box. You may be familiar with these, as they were standard issue at the time. They were big, fat crayons -- flat on one side so that they stayed in place, not rolling off the desk. I remember the scent of Prang's "secret wax forumula" as particularly delightful.

We would pull them out at "coloring time" as the teacher passed out simple blue outlined pictures for us to color, called mimeographs -- they too had a strong scent -- strangely of medicine. It was my habit to hold them up to my nose and take a big whiff, followed by a sniff of my crayon of choice before beginning the task at hand.

I labored hard at the coloring technique taught to me by Sandy Link, a girl who not only was brave enough to eat a dogwood leaf just to impress the boys, but was the finest colorer in class. Being a perfectionist, I didn't always finish my Little Dutch Girl by the end of the appointed time, and would sadly put everything away to be completed later at home -  where I'd have to resort to our broken, less fragrant crayons which were peppered with sand from having been foolishly carried outside on sunny mornings.

After those carefree years at Happy Hearts, I went on to South Ocala Elementary School. Compared to kindergarten, first grade was a grave disappointment. Though I did like reading and writing, the art teacher visited only once a week with her Cart of Art...  that special day which I pretended was designed especially for me. But sadly, 45 minutes a week just wasn't enough.

Art  Is No Longer A Priority In Schools

Lately, when these memories come to mind, they arrive with a tinge of disappointment, magnified by the fact that many public schools in North Carolina are now dropping art classes. I don't know if the elimination of art in local schools is primarily for financial reasons, or if it's so teachers can focus on a traditional curriculum of reading, writing and 'rithmetic (with a bit of sports and music added).

It's important to note that not all children are meant to work as future business managers, investors or doctors. Though these hard times have made financial income a more powerful motivation than ever, art still goes beyond the "practical" side of life. It isn't only about money, markets and finances. If it were, most of us would have given up long ago.

I'd be interested in knowing what you think about the lack of art curriculum in our schools, your childhood memories of art, and the projects you and others in your community are doing to enhance the artistic experiences of children, yours or otherwise. Maybe together, we can help today's young artists find a way to make their own dreams come true. It would be a shame to lose talent that is destined to contribute to the world of tomorrow. I welcome your comments.


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Related Posts:

Portrait of the (Modern) Artist as a Scalawag

Masterpiece in the Subway, Trash in the Museum

To Him that Hath

Is Your Art Making a Difference?

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jimmy springett
via web
Dear Deber--wow what great insight, your view is so important today. As an artist today, practicing my craft is my joy. I think about when I was in school, the art classes offered were top notch. Later in high school I did not continue in the arts, but more science, but the earlier classes stuck, even if I did not get back to it until i was 44.
My wife and I live in a small NW Wisconsin town, and our local art group has made me chairman for next year's art event. What our event team is trying to do is to create a greater interest in art, not only by our younger artist but by older people who have a lot of art just waiting to come out. The schools in our area are considering, similar reductions in art classes but we want to bring the issue back, out in front so everyone can see the long term consequences of making those kinds of decisions on our younger as well as older art students.
One of our local art students a couple of years ago, applied herself to working on the Federal Duck Stamp competition for juniors and she won!! From this great experience she later went on to join the US Fish and Wildlife group as a full time employee, helping others in their artistic endeavors. This is a great example of how art directly improved not only her life, but those in our community.
Your story is a great one and we need more open forums discussing ways to keep art alive in 2009 and beyond. Jimmy Springett

Amy Evans
via web
The current trend to cut art classes in the schools is so sad as well as short-sighted. Studies have shown that students who have taken art classes, visual or performing, do better on SATS and ACTs. Art teaches one to be a problem solver.
I am discovering the lack of art appreciation is beginning to rear its ugly head in the 30 age group. So often at shows I hear " I don't know anything about art". The tastes of this generation seems to be driven by interior designers or Pottery Barn catalogs. The majority of designers also have had little or no art
Our education is becoming so lopsided. No art means no thinking outside the really learning to see...


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