New Experience #41 was supposed to be a quick and easy one. We had a busy week planned, so I thought we’d read a book about Andy Warhol and create a colorful piece of artwork in his style. My kids really enjoyed painting like Jackson Pollock and we hadn’t done an art experience in a while, so this was a perfect time to try an artsy experience.
Both Luke and Leah enjoyed learning about Pop Art much more than I expected they would. We read a brief biography of Andy Warhol that I honestly didn’t think was very well written, but the pictures of Campbell’s soup cans and colorful screen prints of Marilyn Monroe captivated my kids. The next day, Luke came home from school with the book Fabulous: A Portrait of Andy Warhol. He saw it at the school library and checked it out because he wanted to know more about Andy Warhol. I asked him how he knew this book was about Andy Warhol, and he replied, “Mom, there is a picture of Marilyn Monroe and soup cans on the cover. Who else would it be?”
Once I showed them the book Make It Pop!: Activities and Adventures in Pop Art, they wanted to do every activity in the book. So, I turned our easy, little experience into a study of Pop Art. As I write this, we are not totally done with the experience, but we have read about the artwork of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg and created art in their styles. We still have a few more artists the kids want to imitate.
I’m always more focused on process instead of the product, and that is a good thing. We love art, but our talent does not match our interest. Our photographs we colored in the style of the Marilyn Monroe diptychs are not exactly museum quality. Our maps in the style of Jasper Johns look more like traditional maps than Johns’ Map does. I tried to get the children to use some of their toys in a collage like Rauschenberg, but they didn’t want to glue or paint on their belongings, no matter how old they are and how seldom they are played.
I was beginning to think that our experience of making many Pop Art works was not a success, but then I realized it had been more than just making art. We studied a whole art movement, and my two young children actually took an interest in it. I reflected on the fact that Luke took out a book all on his own, without any prompting from his overzealous mother, so he could learn more. Leah noticed all on her own that the handprints we made last year to decorate our playroom are in the same style as the Marilyn Monroe diptychs (see headline photograph). And, while I was pouting upstairs that my children didn’t want to make a collage, the kids were downstairs lining up as many toys as they could on our gymnastics mat. They called me downstairs to show me their “collage”. If that doesn’t show that they understood that art can be made of ordinary, pop culture objects, I don’t know what does.
So, once again, our experience did not go as planned. It went better than planned.
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