Artistic experiences as explorations of materials

One more excerpt from my interview for the Arts & Humanities website at Teachers College Columbia University:

Within the age range you are currently working with, do the children perceive art as a craft (something practical and useful), as something made to be admired, or as something else entirely?

Fundamentally, I believe that for young children, artistic experiences are mostly about exploring materials and discovering the many possibilities that those materials have to offer. The children tend to enjoy sensory experiences with the materials, and many times exploring those materials is about experimenting with the specific characteristics of each of them, sort of figuring out the world around them in and through those explorations.

Artistic exploration is often interwoven with children’s play – particularly in a setting like RGC in which play is regarded as a crucial component – and so, the children explore materials as part of their narratives, their play, and their way of interacting with the world. However, since we often visit the Macy Gallery, many of the children are used to looking at and talking about art, and because of that, they may also have similar expectations about the ways other people may interact with the works they create.