Everything Is Art to Me An Exhibition for Children
10.03 – 03.06.2018 Everything Is Art to Me An Exhibition for Children
curator: Ewa Solarz
collaboration on behalf of Zachęta: Katarzyna Kołodziej-Podsiadło, Zofia Dubowska
visual identification: Robert Czajka
architecture design: Kosmos Project (Ewa Bochen-Jelska & Maciek Jelski)
educational programme: Anna Zdzieborska
artists: Edward Krasiński, Roman Opałka, Ryszard Winiarski, Maurycy Gomulicki, Julita Wójcik, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Monika Drożyńska, Jan Dziaczkowski, Katarzyna Przezwańska
This exhibition has been put together primarily for children and parents, as well as those who do not feel comfortable in contemporary art galleries. It is intended to encourage those who do not understand modern art, or are ashamed to admit it. The exhibition aims not only to familiarise visitors with the way of thinking and work of contemporary artists, but also to convince them (especially the youngest ones) that you can talk about art using normal language, discovering in it things close to us all. Through interactive and workshop elements, the project will also encourage children to engage in creative activity.
illustration: Robert Czajka
The earlier children learn the inspiring power of art, the more frequently they visit museums and galleries, the greater the chance they will grow up to be sensitive and conscious recipients of art.
The museum label, or don’t touch
Let’s respect the rules at the museum and the gallery. Before heading out to a museum or gallery, discuss the rules with your child, explain why most works of art cannot be touched. There is only one copy of them, they cannot be replaced and new ones cannot be bought. They are valuable, they cost a lot of money, sometimes more than a house or a car. They are often delicate and every touch, even a light one, leaves behind traces of the grease and dirt on the skin. (If you have a doubtful child, it’s worth doing an experiment: have the child wash their hands, dry them with a towel and then touch a mirror — a fingerprint is left behind). Even museum employees try to touch the exhibits as little as possible, and when they have to, they always wear special protective gloves.
For the same reasons, you can’t eat at the exhibition, ride a skateboard, run around or shout. It’s worth it to think about others and not disturb them.
Homework, or what’s worth doing before you head out to the museum
It’s worth talking about art and read as much as you can. There are many books for children about art history, artists and creative work, among those we recommend are the following: SZTUKA [Art] by Sebastian Cichocki, The Dot by Peter Reynolds, Zachęta do sztuki [Encouragement to art] by Zofia Dubowska, Why Is Art Full of Naked People by Susie Hodge, Let’s Make Some Great Art by Marion
Deuchars, Bałwan w lodówce [A snowman in the fridge] by Łukasz Gorczyca, The True! History of Art by Sylvain Coissard, The Great Book of Animal Portraits by Svjetlan Junakovic and Wszystko widzę jako sztukę [Everything is art to me] by Ewa Solarz.
A virtual pre-visit, or we like the songs we already know
We all like what we know, and children are no different, which is why before we go to an exhibition with a child, it’s worth taking a sneak peek at it online. It may be a good idea to choose a favourite work, or a few, so you can ‘hunt’ for them at the museum. You can print out a ‘wanted poster’ with an image of the work. The more the child learns about the subject of the search before the exhibition, the more they will enjoy seeing it.
Self-censoring, or sightseeing under control
Some exhibitions may include works that the parents believe are unsuitable for children’s eyes. According to psychologists, there is nothing wrong with nudity itself, but a child may be frightened if the artist approaches the body in a brutal way (mutilates it, subjects it to ‘strange’ practices). A child perceives the world literally: art and reality are the same for them. A parent’s violent reaction may also be harmful: to avoid situations like this, check to see if you find all the exhibits acceptable. Explain to your child that artists can use different means to provoke the viewers’ emotions, but that you prefer that they do not see this particular work.
Enthusiasm, or your mood will also ‘infect’ your child
A child learns everything by observing adults: if a visit to a museum is a boring and tiresome chore for the parent, the child will feel the same way. If you are withdrawn, lost or in a bad mood — your child will receive the message that this experience is unpleasant
and unnecessary. But if you talk about how excited you are about the visit several days earlier, and you’re brimming with enthusiasm when you get there, the child will consider the encounter with art to be something fascinating.
Don’t overdo it, or the maximum sightseeing time and free admission days
The worst thing you can do is to drag a visit out past your child’s abilities. As soon as you feel tired, don’t wait for the crisis. Take an immediate break in the museum café or just leave with your child — you don’t have to see everything during one visit. Take care of your home finances and choose free admission days. All museums have one such day per week, at Zachęta, it’s Thursday.
Guided tours, or put yourself in professional hands
Most museums and galleries organise special tours and workshops for kids: with a curator, artist, educator or guide. It’s worthwhile taking advantage of them and asking questions. This is the only opportunity to get to know the artist and find out about things you won’t hear about otherwise.
Questions are more important than answers
All art education specialists stress the importance of asking questions and encouraging children to ask them. Art is not maths, there is more than one correct answer to every question and many points of view. You don’t need to know all the answers and sometimes there is no answer.
Commission documentation, give them control
Sometimes works of art seen through the camera lens can seem more attractive. Ask your child to document the exhibition, and instead of a lumbering victim, you will have a professional documentary maker next to you. After coming home, your child can go back to the photos, so that they will still have contact with art. Let a younger child take care of the tickets and decide on the order of the tour. You can also mark the sightseeing route on a map or exhibition plan.
Setting out tasks, or playing with details
Instead of telling the child, ‘now look at the pictures’, you can give them tasks, such as asking them to find two blue objects, a painting with digits, or three dogs in one picture. A more advanced version of this game involves photographing the detail of the artwork that the child is supposed to find. You can switch roles: the child takes a photo of the detail and the parent has to find it.
My children regularly took part in workshops accompanying exhibitions, we’ve liked it, and to this day, they can walk into any museum at ease and without being embarrassed. However, I know that as an ambitious mother, I make mistakes. Here are some tips that will help you avoid them.
Avoid setting the direction
Don’t tell your child what they should do and how. Don’t impose your own solutions, even if they’re more spectacular and more interesting than those your child comes up with. Encourage them to do their own experiments and accept the results.
Be open, or total tolerance
Creating art is not just drawing with crayons, it’s also playing in the mud, dragging your feet through sand, tearing up a newspaper, smashing food around on a plate, etc.
Accept the mess
Don’t limit your child’s creativity with petty remarks about cleanliness. If you want to unleash their creativity, don’t block it.
Instead of assigning values: this is pretty or ugly, analyse the matter of the work with your child, the techniques and colours used, or the idea they had.
Don’t draw with your child
Don’t help your child, don’t correct them, don’t do it better.
Don’t give advice
When the child decides their work is finished, don’t suggest any additions or changes. It’s important they feel that what they’ve created is enough, even if it’s just two lines.
Show it off proudly
Hand the finished works on the walls or on the fridge, preferably at your child’s eyelevel so they can enjoy them. This way, your child will feel that their works are important.
If your child wants you to be present in class, stay, even if the teacher says you can go. Children need a sense of security to be able to create.
If your child doesn’t feel like being creating at this moment, let them use the class in their own way. If they want to spend the whole class sitting under the table, accept their choice.
Don’t make comparisons
Remember that the sun doesn’t have to be yellow and grass doesn’t have to be green — let your child interpret reality in their own way.
Thank you to Zofia Dubowska, head of the Zachęta education department, and psychologist Ula Malko, for help in creating these guidelines.
Everything Is Art to Me
An Exhibition for Children
10.03 – 03.06.2018
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
See on the map
Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.