Turn the clean slates and vivid imaginations of youngsters loose in an art gallery and you'll look at art in a whole different way.
Students from Shelly Teska's Head Start Class in Youngsville had a private tour of the Crary Art Gallery Friday, looking at the current show featuring paintings by Reg Darling and Robert Patrick.
The 18 youths, their teacher and classroom aides were accompanied by five parents who equally enjoyed the tour, although the adults were noticeably quieter than their charges.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
A new passion
Mia smiles in delight while looking at one of Reg Darling’s artworks in the Crary Art Gallery. Classroom aide Jenn Keyes holds her up high enough to see the small painting, that contrasts with Robert Patrick’s large canvases.
Teska said, "We read books about how to behave in art galleries, not to touch the artworks." In the case of Patrick's paintings, however, the Minnesota artist freely gave his permission for touching the works on tarpaulins.
She added that Thomas Paquette, the gallery's vice-president recommended this particular show for the children.
Before visiting the gallery, Teska prepared the students by printing and laminating copies of some of the works found on the Crary website, and spoke to them about color and form. She also told them it was okay if they didn't like a particular artwork, as everyone likes different things. However, during the visit, the children seemed to like everything they saw.
As with adults, the kids saw different things in the abstract works. "It looks like a race track," one boy said. "This one looks like worms," said another.
She also said that parents of the students were enthusiastic about exposing the children to art.
Crary Board Member Bonnie Anderson briefly spoke with the group before they began their tour, telling them about the artists and their work.
Teska also addressed the students during the beginning of the tour, saying, "How about you look at these paintings carefully, because when you come to school on Tuesday you are going to paint some like these."
She added that each child will paint their own creation using non-traditional items in addition to brushes, like rubber worms and combs.
Afterward, she said that she will photograph the childrens' paintings and send them, along with thank-you notes to the gallery.