Before having children of my own, I was always surprised by how much artwork was left behind in the Children’s Museum’s Art Studio. Some of the work was really good and I was perplexed why parents didn’t want to take it home. Now that my sons are 3 and 5 years old, I definitely understand. Those boys are prolific artists! Without fail every time they visit CMEE, they’ll hand me some random artwork like a crayon rubbing and tell me that it needs to be hung in my office. In addition to crayon rubbings, I have an entire office wall almost completely covered with Jackson Pollock-inspired splatter paintings, collages, watercolors, folded butterfly paintings, and a tissue-paper stained glass chameleon.
I was planning to throw away most of their artwork because, honestly, 90% of it looks the same and I can’t tell which kid did it. Recently, I’ve changed my mind after realizing how the work can really capture a specific moment in time. For example, there’s one with a jumble of rings printed in blue, yellow, black, red and green in honor of the Summer Olympics three years ago. Another is a portrait of me drawn for my birthday this year and inscribed “I Love You Pad” (instead of dad). I’ve started writing down the context on the back of the artwork so that years from now I’ll know that random scribbling was actually a map of Amber Waves Farm during the summer of 2019.
My sons have also turned my home into an art gallery with two shows currently on exhibition: “3rd Birthday” and “Christmas 2016.” (Why Christmas 2016 and not 2018? Who knows? Artists can be inscrutable sometimes.) Their eagerness to exhibit their work reminds me of a girl who participated in one of CMEE’s art programs at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. After completing several paintings, she announced that she was going to display them in her brother’s hospital room, which she would now call an art gallery.
What do you do with your children’s artwork? If you save it, how do you make sure it’s organized and doesn’t completely clutter your home? Please share your advice – or your children’s artwork – on our Facebook page or Twitter feed or by emailing me directly at Steve@CMEE.org.