Growing up means new adventures! As a young child, everything is a fresh experience with new possibilities to experiment and ideas to ignite. It’s something parents often can’t relate to because we’ve lost our sense of wonder in some ways. But when we’re able to sit back and watch the sparks of understanding fly, basking in the brilliance of discovery – that’s something truly special. It’s how your kids become, well, themselves.
That’s the essence of art for children. It has nothing to do with skill, and oftentimes not even with expression. It’s the true nature of experimentation without boundaries – trying out something and not worrying about being right or wrong allows for kids’ minds to develop, grow and thrive.
At our Young at Art Expo, this core idea of experimentation was very much alive! Tables were set up around the perimeter of the area with smiling representatives from all disciplines – the visual arts, performing arts with dance, theatre and music, cultural programs, and even technology. Each exhibitor had a special project for the children to try, engaging in a conversation and allowing them to try something new. It was a brief but very significant moment for the kids to jump into an art form that they may have never attempted before. What better way to allow for a moment of discovery then with a small icebreaker project for the kids to enjoy in a relaxed environment!
In addition, two spaces were set up for exhibitors to have a moment to shine. A visual arts area offered printmaking, musical instrument crafting, and even a robotics demonstration. The performing arts were represented in a staged area, with vocal and jazz band ensemble, dance performances, expressive workshops, and even a marionette show.
Our mission was that of making connections. Exhibitors had the unique opportunity to speak with families, promoting their kids’ classes and programs. Parents were able to see all the Valley has to offer for their children, some they may have known, but others they had never considered before. Many parents expressed to me that they expected their child to gravitate toward a certain art form, but were surprised to see them discover a completely new interest.
Every child at the event had a face of wonder, some very shy at the idea of trying something new, but willing to give it a go nonetheless. Upon entering, parents were coaxing their children to approach an activity or table, but then by the end the child was leading the adults around (some running to catch up!). The energy was through the roof.
Children left with bags full of projects, visions of fun performances and workshops they’d participated in, and the excitement from a day of artistic experimentation. Parents left with pamphlets on classes, contacts for arts organizations they’d discovered, and a new outlook on their child’s creative future.
All left with a positive perspective on the arts and the joy of taking part in something new.
Thank you to all who participated in Young at Art! If you weren’t able to attend or exhibit this year, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council is already looking ahead to present the Expo in 2017. For more information, please visit: lvartscouncil.org/young-at-art
by Lauren Beck, Operations Manager of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council
(and proud mommy of two little artists)