My wife Taeko and I recently took our 2-year-old granddaughter, Hazel, to the Wichita Art Museum's outdoor sculpture garden. The late afternoon was gorgeous and Hazel was captivated by the great sculptural works and the beautiful plant life.
We rounded the bend in the garden and came into full view of Tom Otterness's 15-foot-tall bronze female figure "Dreamers Awake." Hazel stopped dead in her tracks as she saw and took in the serious and somewhat frightening figure. I was amazed at the impact this work had on her. At first afraid to go near it, or to look at its face, she began to see the smaller bronze figures surrounding it and to make her way closer. She really studied the works, and then came her comments and questions. My wife, Hazel and I began to discuss the great size of the piece. Hazel commented on how shiny the metal was. She liked how the smaller figures seemed to play at the large figure's feet. We looked at that work for a full 30 minutes. We were captivated.
On the way home it hit me. That sculpture puts adults and children on absolutely equal ground. Together, we had arrived at a shared understanding of the art we had viewed. We had made the work our own.
Any child is a sponge--soaking up experiences and lessons learned. And on the way, their natural brilliance is stunning. Art fosters curiosity and lays a great platform for intellectual growth and abstract thinking in children, and adults. Celebrate the brilliance together.