I spoke with a group of about 60 third grade students on Thursday at the Big Flats Elementary school. Earlier this year, their art teacher, Joanna Martinec, had used my work in some of their lessons and they were excited to learn that I lived in the area. Ms. Martinec sent me an email with some images of their work and a list of questions that they had asked. I offered to come and speak directly to the kids to answer their questions.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I don’t deal with a lot of kids but I have to admit that it was a lot of fun. The kids were totally engaged, well behaved, and very responsive.
One of my favorite moments was when I was telling them about how I was about their age when I first thought about wanting to be an artist and that one of my main reasons was that I didn’t feel like people ever heard what I was saying. I asked if any of them ever felt that way, that nobody listened to them, and they answered with a hearty “yes“, almost every single one of them in unison. That brought back my own memories of being in their position so many years ago, about wanting to be heard and to be taken seriously.
I felt really connected to those kids at that point and wanted to really hear all of them.
I did a short demo of my wet method which was not as effective as I had hoped, mainly from a logistical standpoint. It’s just hard to show it well to a large group. We had a camera that sent the images to a large screen but it just didn’t show as well as I would have liked and I wasn’t adept at using it. But I was able to do a couple of things that got some ooh’s and aah’s and I think the kids ended up liking it anyway.
We finished up with a question and answer period. I’ve done many gallery talks over the years and understand how hesitant and self-conscious people– by that I mean adults– are in asking questions. There was none of that with this group. The kids’ hands filled the air and they followed up with great questions and fun comments about what they liked or what they were doing with their own art. We had to stop because of the time but about half of the kids still had their hands in the air to ask questions. If it had been possible, I would have stayed and answered every single one of their questions.
It was so much fun talking with these kids and hearing their views and their questions. They had awareness and understanding with an openness that was without cynicism. That’s a refreshing combination. It was very inspiring for me.
I think I may have found my target audience.
Thank you to the teachers and the staff at the Big Flats Elementary School for having me and to Joanna Martinec for doing such a great job with your kids. I had a great time and hope the kids did as well.