I couldn’t have asked for a more phenomenal place to spend the last 10 years. It has been such an honor to work with the teachers from our 9 partner schools, countless stellar artists who have inspired me in ways I can’t even put into words and most importantly the students who have been a ray of sunshine and brought such joy to my life.
I wanted to leave something behind as a token of my gratitude and I spent quite a lot of time pondering what this might be. I think one of the greatest things about Kidspace is that it becomes a familiar place that children visit every year, sometimes several times a year. They associate Kidspace not only with the art but with imagination, creativity, freedom and fun. I love being in the grocery store and a child says “Mom, that’s the Kidspace lady!” One of my favorite notes that I’ve received from a student simply reads “When I see you it makes me happy.”
That’s what I decided to leave behind: something that people would look at, and it would make them smile.
The project came about quite organically after that…
The students from the North Adams Public Schools Pre-K program came for a visit to the Sol LeWitt Retrospective. The majority of them had never been to a museum before. The looks of awe on their faces as we wound around corners and took tunnels was priceless. We looked at shapes and colors. We learned the primary colors. We moved our bodies to mirror the art. I am always so impressed by how well they behave for being such wiggly creatures in an unfamiliar place.
The following week I went Johnson school for phase 1 of our mural. I read the students the book “Color Dance” by Ann Jonas
We learned that the primary colors mix together to form the secondary colors. Minds were blown.
Painting outside with paper clothes-pinned to a fence is highly recommended. It’s easy to clean and it’s accessible.
Playing tricks on young people can be thoroughly amusing, so when I told them I only packed the red, yellow and blue paint by mistake they were quick to shout solutions: “Wait! We can mix our own green!”
This is the Berkshires, so there was no way the entire week was going to be sunny, but those kids rolled with it and finger painted inside like champs.
Once each of the 8 classes painted their sheets, I took them back to Kidspace and we cut them down into hearts and squares for phase 2.
Teaching children meditation and mindfulness practices has been one of my favorite aspects of our programming. After we began with a breathing and centering exercise, each child was asked to chose a square and a heart and share with the group something they are grateful for and someone that they love. We then drew a picture of both on the back, as I thoroughly enjoy “secret art” hidden behind a piece of art.
Some things 3-5-year-olds are grateful for: ice cream, bicycles, dinosaurs, their dad being home from Iraq, new shoes, going swimming, when their baby brother doesn’t cry ALL NIGHT LONG! Going fishing, getting hugs, pizza, bug spray, not having to wear a winter jacket every day, sour patch kids, that evil wizards aren’t really real and climbing trees in the woods.
Ahh…..to be 5 again
With the secret art mission complete, we moved on to phase 3 where they glued their hearts on to the squares and I reminded them that every time they looked at the mural hanging in their hallway, they should remember those things that make them grateful and the people they love…”And that will make me smile every time!” Phew- they got it 🙂
For the final phase, I glued them all together and mounted the finished product on the wall in the hallway. Well worth all the effort just to hear “It’s sooooooo beautiful!”
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ― John F. Kennedy
Thank you to my children, Thank you Laura, Hilary and every superawesome intern we’ve had over the years, thank you to the students and teachers of the North Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, Savoy, Adams and Pittsfield public schools.
I am grateful 🙂
Soon to be former Manager of School and Partnership Programs