I'm very proud of Phaedra for taking this risk. She is starting a business to teach art to children. She's checked out business books and art/children/pedagogy books from the library to help her start right. She's building a website. She's created a FAQs page, a 10-week curriculum, a set of classroom guidelines, and a totally righteous teaching philosophy that assumes that kids are smart enough--after all--to learn and quite possibly to love art history.
Case in point: one class she'll devote exclusively to the color yellow. In that class she'll show the kids a slideshow that illustrates the ways in which artists throughout history, from Medieval to Modern, have used the color yellow. She'll have the kids respond to the images. She'll ask them, "How does the use of yellow make you feel in this painting? How about in this other sculpture?" She'll read a children's illustrated book that prominently utilizes yellow. Then she'll have the kids make something--roused by their imagination--using yellow in a prominent way. She'll show them how yellow relates to other colors, and how it relates to ideas about art and to experiences of art that have been significant throughout history.
Wait--what age did you say she was going to teach with this method? 4 year-olds. Is she serious? Won't it be too much for them? Not at all. The concepts in art are quite simple. They can be made as complex or as complicated as people wish. But the ideas about texture, shape, color, line, smell and taste and weight are, well, elemental. Phaedra simply wishes to introduce kids (from 4-10 years of age) to a realm that by God's design is rich and fantastical. And she thinks kids should get the opportunity to visit this realm as early as possible.
Train a child in the way she should go and she shall not depart from the ways of understanding how beautiful and life-giving and powerful the realm of art can be. In the beginning God created the color yellow, and it wasn't the same ever since.
Phaedra is thrilled to be standing at the threshold of a completely new venture. She's also terrified, on some days utterly terrified. Myself, I think she's got everything it takes to succeed. She just needs an old fashioned dose of discipline and perseverance along with continual encouragement--pretty much like the rest of us. But I'm proud of her for giving it an honest shot.
And the fact that she is turning 30 by the end of this month makes it even more of an exciting adventure.
>Here is her website: ArtMachine Studios. At the moment it exists in rudiment form. On Monday she will fill it out and announce it officially. I'm simply her John the Baptist, announcing good news in advance.
And if you know anybody in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area with kids, please let them know.
(And there she is, standing amidst a riot of color in the Duke Gardens. Ahh...color.)