Growing up, I wanted to be an artist. I imagined living in New York City and showing my paintings in galleries. I worked toward my goal; painting, painting, painting and eventually going to MICA. To my surprise, the more immersed I became in the art world, the more I found myself looking outside of it for role models. These days, I find my inspiration from the mother who lovingly stitches together a quilt from outgrown clothing, the woodworker who makes a toy train set that will last for generations and the kid who builds a fort from boxes and sheets, creating his own magical world.
Often, it seems people are so intimidated by their idea of what "art" is, they are too afraid to just jump in and make something. When I was a teenager, my grandmother made a beautiful, king size quilt. I told her that I didn't think I'd ever be able to take on such an ambitious project. "Sure you can," she responded. "You just haven't tried.” Maybe Grandma is onto something.
Making supplies and materials available to your children can set them on a path to lifelong creativity. Starting early gives them the confidence that they can make just about anything. When my stepson Elijah envisioned bat wings he could wear, we had everything we needed in our craft closet. First, he drew the wings out on a piece of paper and came up with a plan for how to attach them. Then, we found an old pillowcase and he drew the outline on it in chalk. He cut along the line he had drawn, and we were done. He did it! He made bat wings! He felt accomplished and empowered. And a little like Batman.
Ellen Lupton's DIY Kids event at aMuse this Sunday is a great opportunity to get ideas on on how to work creativity into our lives with our children. DIY Kids does such an amazing job of making design accessible to everyone. I can't wait, and I hope to see you there!