Art appreciation: a window into the world!

School is a window into the world. It is a place to flourish and broaden our knowledge, experiences, and interactions. Here, children come into daily contact with new experiences, sensations, and different repertoires from those they already know, which are already part of their family universe. These new discoveries and learning happen in the most diverse ways, through different situations, languages, and areas of knowledge. In this sense, we see Art as a great ally and we develop a very important work of Art appreciation with the children at a very young age, in Early Childhood Education.

“Art begins with looking. Looking at images, whether they are real or not, allows us to feel, perceive, distinguish, and imagine. Art appreciation requires a closer look at the image, in order to interact with the elements of visual language: colors, lines, shapes, space, volume, and textures, opening up an insightful and discursive field surrounding the image’s impact on each person,” said Claudia Mariuzzo, Art Advisor at be.Living.

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According to Claudia, these aspects of knowledge – aesthetic, artistic and insightful – can be introduced to young children both through their everyday lives and through works of art. “Through different paths, perspectives, and dialogues, Art promotes meaningful experiences and creates opportunities for children to critically and constructively engage with the world around them. The more images we read, the more social, cultural, and aesthetic knowledge we acquire. Our work in Early Childhood Education is teaching kids how to look,” she added.

Our pedagogical coordinator, Camila Maia, adds that Early Childhood Education teachers host Art appreciation sessions with the children. “The teachers sit in a circle with the children and show them images they’ve selected. With younger children, this interaction is much more subjective and more about feelings than actually defining the meaning behind an idea. At this moment in life, they connect very strongly with the aesthetics of art, drawing their own concept of what they like or dislike within that repertoire of images and figures that are completely different from what they know.  The teachers show the colors and shapes, talk about emotions, sensations and feelings, in order to broaden the children’s experience with art.

After the appreciation sessions, teachers usually hang the images on a special wall called the Art Corner. This space of appreciation entices children to look at the images, creating opportunities for them to be amazed, to analyze, question, formulate hypotheses, feel, and acquire notions of aesthetics. Camila adds that it is very common to witness children spontaneously resorting to these images during routine moments. “Among the older children, who have already started to develop more complex speech, we see them stop there and make comments, pointing out their observations.” There are also moments throughout the daily routine when children remember the experience they had through art appreciation in other ways. “They start talking about art, making connections. For example, I remember when we worked with Kandinsky, and just a few days after the appreciation session, a child picked up a toy with circles to place on a pin and said: ‘Look, it’s just like Kandinsky’s work!’, referring to the artwork ‘Several Circles’ by the Russian painter. So, the children are able to make connections to waht they see in these images. And these connections are very important for future reflections they will make throughout their school life.”

Claudia adds that the moment of appreciating art is crucial to develop coordinated thinking, which, when later combined with gesture, opens up new paths to invention, imagination, creation, and expression. “Children are synesthetic. All their senses are awake at all times. They are constantly curious and inventive, which is how the body interacts with materialities, where materials, spaces and people are simultaneously the subjects of experimentation. Just like artists, children bring issues from their lives into their artwork. When they get to know the artists and their work, they feel a sense of belonging and have greater validation for their own work, empowered to represent their own ideas without the need to create something ‘pretty’ or ‘realistic’ to please others. They often tell stories when drawing and painting, mixing super-heroes with a father figure, people they like or dislike, free to use the color they want, regardless of realism. No matter how simple or elaborate, their creations represent their own universe, feelings and thoughts, their inner and affective lives.

Coordinator Camila also adds that, through the art appreciation work, teachers can also introduce kids to the diversity of our world. “They don’t just appreciate the images, but also come into contact with different artists, men and women, from different races and ethnicities. They learn who that person is, their name, their background and, within their own ability, the aesthetic and conceptual proposal behind each work of art. Therefore, art appreciation is the effective application of the world’s knowledge. In this sense, this plays a very important role in what we as a school propose in terms of diversity, sustainability, and ethnical-racial education. Art is a powerful tool to burst the small bubbles in which we live.

Our Art Advisor, Claudia, adds that art is a powerful instrument of provocation, which invites strangeness and experiencing the usual from a new perspective. “By introducing several artistic languages, we open up an important path to incite debate and shed light onto the unsaid and the unseen. That is why moments created with this intention, as well as the organization of the space as a visual stimulus, the corners for them to explore, the use of images of artistic references, and the children’s own drawings are aesthetic nourishment that stimulates a more attentive look at life itself and the world around them.”

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