Summer Writings: ARTISTS, CURATORS, AND MUSEUM EDUCATORS: CHILDREN AS PART OF AN ARTMAKERS’ COMMUNITY

And here's the abstract for another paper I presented at the Education and New Developments Conference in Porto. Book of proceedings Hopefully be available soon! Always excited to talk about my kids and their art...

ARTISTS, CURATORS, AND MUSEUM EDUCATORS: CHILDREN AS PART OF AN ARTMAKERS’ COMMUNITY - Abstract

This paper explores a research study developed around an annual exhibition of artworks by infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in a professional art gallery, relating it to current issues in art education, early childhood, and curatorial studies. During this exhibition, toddlers and preschoolers also serve as tour- guides. The children walk visitors through the gallery to present and explain their processes and explorations with art materials. As an exhibition, this show of young children’s artwork aims to be a venue for meaningful experiences for children, families, and community, while having its own identity as an art exhibition in its own right.

Aspects relating to the use of digital media and technology as curatorial tools are also discussed, namely Augmented Reality (AR) and Quick Response (QR) codes used in this exhibition in innovative ways as tools in the curatorial process. They respond to existing challenges in creating a balance between the exhibition’s role as a gallery exhibit in its own right as well as an educational space for people of all ages; they also give children’s voices a stronger presence throughout the exhibition.

Explaining the processes and decisions involved in developing, curating, and putting together such an exhibit, this paper presents understandings about the importance of exhibiting student work in early childhood contexts. Based on data created in direct observations, journaling, and interviews with students’ family and community members, this study discusses how issues of contemporary curating may have their place in early childhood contexts, within a framework of art education.

Conclusions point towards an educational approach that values children as individuals with voices and ideas that should be heard, considered, and valued. Furthermore, this research claims that through the explorations with art materials and processes, young children may identify themselves as part of a community of art makers who take charge of their explorations and their learning; who have a role and a voice in the way they influence the world around them; and who contribute not only to their own personal development but also to their broader community.