Some kids have their artwork displayed on their parent's fridge. Other kids have their artwork displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While making art is part of everyone's childhood, having that art shown at a world famous museum isn't. So when it happens, it's pretty darn magical.
Recently, The Met held a group art exhibition entitled "P.S. Art: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of NYC Kids." The show, which has been going on for the past 10 years, "features works of art in a variety of media created by public school students in New York City." And the City has some pretty talented kids!
Because of this program, a Picasso-like painting of the Statue of Liberty done by a first-grader went on display at a museum that houses real Picassos. A realistic sculpted bust created by a 12th grader entitled "Self As Alexander" prompted comments like, “Michelangelo should watch out” during the show's opening night.
Each year, over 1,000 students submit artwork to the show. The artwork is then judged by a panel consisting of art world figures and Met staff members. In total, 103 pieces of art were chosen to be displayed at The Met this year.
While the artworks are judged based on age group, the criteria of what the judges are looking for is subjective. “They’re looking for youth voice,” explains Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Museum’s Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education. “Even at that age, we encourage them not to copy. We want them, as artists, to use their own creative impulses and let that guide the process.”
The artwork chosen to be displayed in the Met is worthy of being displayed in the Met. “The work speaks to the quality of arts education we want to see erupting. I continue to be blown away by the commitment teachers and educators have shown to include arts education — not as something that is ancillary but a part of the basic education system," said Jackson-Dumont.
The program has been amazingly supportive of young talent. “One of the most powerful parts of the show is the moment when the young people realize their ever first show is happening at The Met,” said Jackson-Dumont. How inspiring! Seeing the looks on the kids' faces must be better than seeing the art itself.
The display has been good for the self-esteem of the children. "When I see people looking at my artwork, I think they must feel happy for me because it’s neat, pretty, and clean. I’m a good painter. I like to make art because it helps me draw better," said student Ariana Cruz (not pictured) of her artwork. Adorable!
And yes, even though kids are young, they still have a creative process."I like to make art because I get to try out different materials and think about what I want to draw. I made many bumps and details to show the leaf, and the veins show the inside of the leaf. When people look at my drawing, I want them to think of how leaves look in the fall," said kindergartner Habeba Chowdhury. Aww!
“This is a space for young people to share their voices,” said Jackson-Dumont. “To live out loud as themselves and be celebrated, not scrutinized. When we provide a space for them to be their best selves and they show up that way.” It's amazing that young voices are being nurtured in such a supportive way!
The show is incredibly diverse — both in what mediums are used and what artists are represented. “People make assumptions about who is featured in a show like this,” said Jackson-Dumont. “But we’re really looking at the full spectrum of education in New York public schools. We show work by every kind of student, including students with special needs.”
While the show is diverse, a consistent theme has cropped up throughout the artwork. “There are a lot of portraits in the show, which I think communicates a sense of self-realization," said Jackson-Dumont. You know what they say — great minds think alike!
The fact that The Met is supporting New York City children in probably one of the most endearing ways possible should be emulated across the country. "People, I think, are now realizing that when you nurture young people in this way, you are nurturing the next generation of young innovators," said Jackson-Dumont. The more future artists, the better!
In the future, Jackson-Dumont would like to see the amount of artwork displayed at the Met grow. However, the program is still held back by budgetary concerns. The children's artwork is given the same respect as any other piece of art at The Met. “This isn’t treated like a throwaway project. All the works are framed and arranged like they would be in any other Met exhibition. The labels here are the same as the labels upstairs," said Jackson-Dumont.
It's so inspiring to see an institution like The Met encourage young artists. Who knows what will come out of this program? Maybe the support of the first-grader's Picasso-like painting today will lead to the development of tomorrow's Picasso!