Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dragons and Castles: Broad Street Gallery debuts children’s art



On the 29th of October, the Broad Street Gallery, courtesy of Trinity College’s studio art Department, was lent to the children studying at the Montessori Magnet School across from Trinity’s campus on Broad Street. The show, “Dragons and Castles” featured the art works of children between the ages of 6 to 12, and encompassed a theme that has universally remained a childhood fantasy.

The works ranged from drawings and water colored paintings to puppets and canvas paintings, and was extremely reflective of the skill and effort of the children, coupled with their imaginative minds. Each work presented was a unique story that only its young artist could explain. It was refreshing to see how although similar elements such as princes, princesses, knights, castles, kings, and queens, were featured in each work, every child had a different conceptual approach toward his or her work. While a lot of the younger children were still at a stage where art is more symbolic and realism is not relevant, it was interesting to see the transition from the work of the younger children to that of the older ones who cared more about how realistic their work was. In their own ways, the style of each child was extremely fascinating, and every viewer seemed to enjoy this aspect of the event the most.

The children were not only able to pride themselves in being the artists at this special event, but were also given the chance to appreciate each other’s work. It was especially impressive to see that for most children, their favorite piece at the show, was not their own. The younger kids were extremely awed by what the older ones were capable of making and the older children could not get over how “cute” the work made by the little ones was. The children complimented each other on their extraordinary efforts and the opening transformed into a celebration.

The intimate gallery space was filled with children, parents, faculty from the Montessori Magnet school, as well as faculty and students from Trinity College. The different communities and age groups were able to come together as one through the connecting thread that was the art work made by the children. It was a joyous occasion, especially for the children who loved seeing their work being professionally displayed. “My head is filled with so much of happy right now,” explained Nancy, one of the artists who was thrilled by the event. The atmosphere of merriment was further complimented by refreshments, music and dancing. Abu, the musician of the evening, played the shakeray, the bongo and the congo drums, which were overwhelmingly loud in the small space of the gallery but enjoyable as evident by the way the children broke into their dance moves. Towards the latter half of the night, the children were also given a chance to try the own hands at the instruments, and to improvise their own collaborative piece.

The Montessori Magnet School is located across the street from Trinity, and young children are consequently extremely fascinated by what lies beyond the gates across the street. Every year, students from Trinity enroll in a half-credit course called ‘Art and Community’ and are placed in an art classroom, working with the children. Professor Rossini, who coordinates this program explained, “Our collaborator at the Montessori School, Lena Stein, is a truly gifted art educator, so the work the children do is pretty amazing. And the Montessori children love their Trinity students! The TC folks work side-by-side with the children, helping them as they make their artwork, giving them advice, and simply listening as the kids talk about their lives. “ Furthermore, “Many of the Montessori children live in the neighborhoods around the college, and to get to know some of our neighbors—to put a face on Hartford—is a great thing for our students,” added Rossini.

The Montessori children get a lot, yes, but the TC students get even more. One of the students enrolled in Art and Community expressed, “the students’ smiles and stories reminded me of my childhood. Through their stories and dreams for the future, I realized that I, too, have multiple aspirations for life after college.” Several projects worked on by the children that were presented at the show were mentored by Trinity students. The children very much acknowledged, and valued, the guidance that was provided to them.

Ultimately the show extended beyond just a display of artwork. The display of the art work in the Broad Street Gallery reminded the children that ‘all art is art,’ effectively making them feel more confident about themselves, an important value at their vulnerable age.

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