Through the manipulation of natural and man-made objects and through movements through the action space the young child develops mathematical instruments that give structure to the mind: number conservation, topological relationships (proximity, separation, order, etc), symmetry (translations, reflections, rotations, glide transformations), synergy (relationship of parts to whole), addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. However it is not enough to accumulate knowledge through play and the manipulation of objects . Cognitive knowledge and skills must be expressed through drawing, painting, collage, sculpture and woodworking. Knowledge without expression will remain incomplete and inadequate. Through cutting through boards of soft balsa wood with a child sized saw the child subdivides the object into its constituent parts plus a remainder (sawdust). By interconnecting the parts again with hammer and nails he transforms the constituent parts into a new whole.
The making of marks on the picture plane is the beginning of the growth of consciousness and leads to the articulation of relationships that are numerical, spatial and socio-emotional. Typically the child’s first drawings are about mommy, daddy and me! With experience and skill the young child’s expression of the world around him begins to reflect the signs and symbols of the culture he is immersed in and is marked by the appearance of both numbers and letters, the articulation of which develops in tandem with the mental construction of the image and speech. The playful expression of knowledge acquired through the curriculum as a whole through art develops the whole child: cognitive, creative, social-emotional.
The idea that art develops writing skills is current but not well understood. The explanation of precisely how this process occurs and what is involved requires a discussion about elementary geometries which begin with simple movements at the painting easel or the drawing table: a repetitive drawing of circles and/or ovals, one upon the other, many, many times over. These repetitive movements involve the whole arm and often the entire body, and are accompanied by emotions ranging from wonder to abandon. Over time and with experience the increasing control of motion and speed result in the first subdivisions of the sphere or circle, as in the half-circle (c) or the bottom and two sides of a circle (u).
A straight vertical line is relatively easy for the toddler to construct, given the difficulty of extending limits on its two opposing extremities. Beyond the demands encountered in the construction of the o, the I, the c and the u the learner is confronted with problems that involve basic symmetries and symmetry transformations. Reflection is one of the basic symmetries found in the construction of alphabetical letters. Two basic symmetries are reflections and rotations. To reflect an object means to produce its mirror image. For instance the letter d is a vertical reflection of the b. Similarly the q is a vertical reflection of a p. The construction of the m and the w involve a horizontal reflection. A second example of a problem confronted by the learner is found in the rotation of the number 6, which yields the number 9. To transform a six into a 9 requires a 180 degree rotation. For proof these are fundamental problems faced by the young learner one need only consider the common instance of letters and often whole words constructed in a manner that would be considered correct but that they are written backwards (mirror writing).
The young child will typically reach out to the two opposing parallel sides of the easel as guides for the construction of the I, the T, the F and the H. These are problems involved in the conception of parallel lines. An even more difficult problem is the production of the slanted line. Eventually the child will begin to use a method known as sighting, wherein the eye looks at one corner of the easel or edge of the paper and aims for the opposite corner, thus forming the diagonal, as in the construction of the A, K, M, Q, R, V, W and X. These cases of intersecting, slanted lines is a great challenge that is solved only with continual practice and reflection. In fact experiments done by the Swiss genetic-epistemologist Jean Piaget in the Child’s Conception of Space confirmed that the most difficult structure for the child to construct is the diagonal found in the simple triangle, which is usually not conserved as a reversible structure until the onset of concrete operations from age 5 to age 7. This is also about the age that children understand the principle of intertwinement and are able to tie their shoes. Pre-operational children, those children incapable of reasoning without the aid of objects as a reference point (fingers and toes, blocks, etc.) are said to be perception bound, or constantly distracted by all of the perceptual information in the action space.
The child’s experience at the painting easel or the drawing table provides the arena, the blank slate, the picture plane, upon which this long protracted battle, if you will, between perception and conception is played out. Bombarded by letters, words, and numbers at home, in the streets, in the classroom, etc., the child who draws and paints freely and regularly assimilates this information from the visual field in a natural way, confronting the problems of logic and perception directly, solving them one by one through experimentation, reflection and experience, from the first letter in his first name, to first words, to eventually stories. The child who learns to read and write without this experience of playful invention, experimentation, cognitive and socio-emotional expression will be at a serious disadvantage!
The child’s life in the family and at school are reflections of each other. At school in the dramatic play corner he/she rehearses the drama and rituals of home life and at home those of the life of the group while at school. He is learning to separate, to share, to work and to play. The events, rituals, routines, joys and tribulations of life at home and in the classroom is the subject matter of the young child’s experience with art from early childhood scribbles to the pictorial sophistication of concrete operations performed with the aid of objects to reversible, abstract, formal operations in the teen age years. Along with the skills that he/she is developing through art (cutting, pasting, modeling, creating two and three dimensional images) the child immersed in an a rich theme based arts program is learning to contemplate, compare, contrast and discuss his work with his teachers, parents and friends. The process of observing, doing and sharing through theme based art projects and the activities involved in viewing art over the internet and at regular gallery openings and exhibitions at Jardin Galerie and jardingalerie.org increases the child’s awareness of the value of his work, the joy of sharing it with others and the pleasure of communicating its meaning to family and friends. This rich experience builds a sense of confidence, of competence and results in the development of the whole child.
The late twentieth century explosion in business, trade, the arts and culture is an international phenomenon increasingly dependent on the World Wide Web for its sustenance. Our ability to compete and be relevant in any of these areas will be an outcome of our ability to use technology efficiently. Jardin Galerie attempts to use the world wide web to promote a better understanding of what children’s art means, of why it is important and how it can be utilized in education, as a tool for understanding child development and as a vehicle for communication. We intend to develop global outreach in order to provide a rich, multicultural menu of children’s art, and in so doing promote the educational values that we are founded on, promote a greater understanding of the value of child development and provide a model for studying it across cultures and enhance communication world wide amongst teachers, parents, children and the general population.
Art is universal and it is known that young children all over the world draw comparable shapes and designs on whatever surfaces are available to them with whatever tools they can find in an attempt to learn about and express their knowledge of their world. Art is the blank slate upon which children build, piece by piece, over a long-protracted period of time, their unique view of the world. If children’s abilities are given a garden in which to grow they will learn to express their own interpretation of reality. When children are denied expression through art, their intellectual growth is compromised and they are deprived of challenges that develop the richness of their minds, and critical ways of thinking and learning.
Jardin Galerie’s goal is to reach across socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability and language. Art is a great equalizer and differences in cultures and populations and abilities only serve to enrich the experience of the viewer. The current population being served in New York City includes: upper to lower socio-economic status, private and public schools; White, Black, Spanish, French, Chinese races ; Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Ethnicities; male and female genders; ages two to _13_, pre-school to _8th___ grade; and English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, languages. In addition Jardin Galerie has provided outreach to schools and arts organizations around the world including Vietnam, Russia, Ireland, Hungary, France and Cuba.
Confidence & Competence
Jardin Galerie is anchored on the belief that through the process of art children cultivate their natural desire and ability to think, to feel, and express. Through a rich curriculum centered around art very young children learn to read and write in a natural, unhurried manner. The cognitive skills learned through the process of creating art form the foundation for learning mathematics and science skills as well. Young children are natural artists and drawing and painting at an early age is associated with the development of fine motor skills and for cultivating creativity, communication skills and cognitive skills that are at such a premium today. It is through Art that young children learn techniques that allow them to invent a personal visual language with which to express their joy, fears, desires, strength, faith, hope, and love.
Art instills a calm environment and sense of well being that is conducive to learning and the fact that drawing and painting is held in high esteem by parents and educators makes Art a strong tool in building self-esteem and self-confidence and encouraging personal achievements.
For a young child from Russia, Hungary or Vietnam to see his or her work exhibited in New York City is meaningful. It boosts their self-confidence and increases their sense of competence. It makes them feel proud of the effort they have put forth and inspires them to continue their work. It gives them ideas about how other children their own age or older have approached the theme and gives them tools for extending their ideas and skills. Teachers in other countries, participants in Jardin Galerie and jardingalerie.org speak of their children’s pride, of how the experience has filled them with wonder and motivated them to work harder. The students’ interaction with the gallery, their personal participation and the reward of being recognized builds confidence and a sense of self-worth. It sends the message that their work is valuable, that it has meaning and is important.