Demystifying Art for Children: New York Perspectives

By Melina Mallos.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Using authentic materials for art education is necessary to clarify the complicated relationship between artists and their creative process. This paper will showcase four institutions in New York, NY that use constructivist and sociocultural approaches to demystify the process of art for children through authentic materials. Two of these institutions focus on process and technique. In the Met’s How Did They Do That? program, curators and conservators, alongside educators, share their insights about materials and artistic choices while leading hands-on activities. MoMA’s Material Lab gives children the opportunity to explore the same materials that artists use, to search for these materials in the museum’s collection, and to create their own interpretations. Two other organizations empower teachers to reflect upon the material choices artists make and to consider the potential for classroom investigation. The Morgan Book Project at The Morgan Library and Museum aims to instill a childhood appreciation for books by providing authentic materials to write, illustrate, and construct their own Medieval and Renaissance-inspired illuminated manuscripts. Art21, an educational organization, produces films and programs that support educators in the classroom in their efforts to bring the working methods of contemporary artists into teaching and learning. From the lessons provided by these art institutions, the paper will conclude with strategies that can inspire teachers to transform their art classroom into a laboratory for learning—socially, artistically, and aesthetically.

Keywords: Materials, Museum Education, Art Teaching, Teacher Professional Development, Children

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.49-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 556.499KB).

Melina Mallos

Program Officer of Education and Curriculum Programs, Access, Education and Regional Services, Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Since 2001, Melina has developed programs for children, families, teachers, and schools visiting art galleries. With a background in early childhood education, she initiated a popular toddler program, visiting renowned early childhood centres in Reggio Emilia, Italy to create high-quality art programs for young children. Her research interests focus on children’s engagement with art, and her Master thesis documented the interactive strategies most conducive to children’s learning in museums. She was awarded a Queensland-Smithsonian Fellowship in 2009–2010 where she investigated the museum-based learning model of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in Washington, DC. An article discussing collaboration in the development of artist projects in museums was featured in the Spring 2012 edition of The Journal of Museum Education (Early Learning: A National Conversation). Her 2012 visit to New York investigated ways to engage children with authentic art materials in museums and in the classroom.