A falta de clases de arte, ¿mamá?

8 09 2009

Ante el inminente asote que está recibiendo la cultura en Puerto Rico (y en muchos otros lugares), es necesario tomar medidas de contingencias. Que pueden ser tan simples como un padre/madre enseñarle a su hijo/a el arte de mirar, la maravilla de observar su entorno más allá de lo meramente funcional, sino poder ver y deleitarse también con cómo un árbol recién florecido puede crear una lluvia de flores amarillas o cuán diferent se ve el cielo cuando se mira desde debajo del agua, sumergido en la playa.

Este artículo del Boston Globe ofrece otras posibilidades de cómo los padres y madres pueden ayudar a subsanar el vacío que deja la falta de apoyo institucional y gubernamental hacia las artes (desde el despido de maestros de arte, hasta la falta de fondos – o sea la desmantelación virtual de instituciones artísticas y culturales como el Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueño). Me preocupa un poco que esto se vuelva un relegarle los padres la responsabilidad de educar a las próximas generaciones sobre sensibilidades culturales y artística, una salida facil del gobierno que cada vez más busca librarse de lo que han sido sus responsabilidades (empleo, salud, retiro, educación). pero a la misma vez entiendo que el proyecto educativo de un pueblo no le corresponde únicamente a las escuelas – la casa, la familia, tambiñen son escuelas, aprovechémoslas pues.

Use your imagination
How parents can fill the void when schools cut arts and music programs
By Don Aucoin
Globe Staff / September 1, 2009

One day, when Barbara Martin was 11 years old and lounging around her Tennessee home with her three siblings, their mother returned from a backyard foray with some unexpected marching orders.

“Everyone should spend five minutes in the hammock looking up at the blue sky through the yellow leaves,’’ she told them. The children complied. “It was an extraordinary visual effect,’’ recalls Martin. “The colors were so fabulous on that fall day, it had the power to feed your soul.’’

That maternal lesson on the importance of forging a connection to the visual world, of seeing the world as a work of art, evidently stuck with Martin: Today, she is the Alfond curator of education at the Museum of Fine Arts.

But what if you’re an average parent? How do you instill an appreciation for the arts in your kids, thereby enlarging their creative and critical-thinking skills while deepening their enjoyment of life?

The question has added urgency at the moment. The statewide education budget crunch has prompted many cash-strapped schools to cut back on programs in music, theater, dance, photography, and the visual arts. In February, a report by the Boston Foundation found that as students in Boston’s 143 public schools move into the higher grades, their access to arts programs of all kinds sharply diminishes.

For parents who want to pick up the slack and shoulder the role of arts advocate and educator, one place to start is exactly where Martin’s mother began: in the home. The first art to develop is the art of looking. Martin says parents should foster “a visual awareness of your surroundings’’ within their children. “Think of looking games as something to do when you’re walking. ‘How many colors can you find in this landscape? What story can we tell each other about this picture?’ ’’ she says. “Think about opportunities to engage your kids with the visual world.’’

While you’re doing that, stock an “art shelf’’ or an “art box’’ with plenty of construction paper, markers, fabric scraps, and old magazines (for cutting pictures out of). That way, when inspiration strikes your child, he or she will have the tools at hand to execute their vision.

The next step is to take them to a museum, so they can see how the pros do it. The MFA offers activity sheets for children, called “Art Connections,’’ that allow them to explore “Mythical Creatures, Powerful Figures, Flowers, Cats, or Writing.’’ Also available at the museum are art classes for kids, a visiting guide replete with “gallery games,’’ a family audio guide, and a “Family Art Cart’’ for children ages 4 and older.

Martin advises parents to build field trips with their kids around a theme. For instance, using the MFA’s self-guiding “Art Connections,’’ parents and children could follow the theme of “Writing in Art’’ from a cuneiform inscription dating to ancient Assyria to an inscribed golden bowl in the early-Greece gallery to the Egyptian funerary arts gallery.

“What you want in visiting a museum is a balance of focus and freedom,’’ says Martin. “Affirm your child’s observations. ‘Ah, so you’re noticing the brushstrokes are short and choppy. Oh, so you think the bird is about to eat the worm.’ ’’

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