Some Big Shoes to Fill

National Post
September 2, 2000

Some Big Shoes to Fill
Walking in the Shoes of the Masters
BY HELEN BUTTERY

So you think the fingerpaintings on your fridge have the makings of a Monet? Julie Frost, curator of Avenue Road Arts School, would agree.

Ms. Frost recently helped 150 kindergarten artists, aged four to six, recreate a Monet garden.

“Flowers are so much a part of children’s lives,” she says. The finished work is complete with lily pads, frogs, flowers more than a metre tall and a Japanese bridge.

The recreation is part of Walking in the Shoes of the Masters: Children Look at Art Through Time, starting September 4 at Metro Hall.

Over a six month period, 800 young students from Avenue Road Arts School were inspired by the great artists of the last millennium to create dose to 30 pieces, including works motivated by Cézanne, Emily Carr and Andy Warhol.

“Interpretations of the masters are always done through an adult voice. Children are much more explorative. They have an uninhibited response [to art]; they take it off in their own direction,” says Ms. Frost.

Some interesting adaptations appear in the children’s reinterpretations. The most obvious difference is an interactive component in many of the displays. You can go inside Warhol’s famous soup can or become part of a Picasso portrait; and the Emily Carr landscape is a robotic sculpture with moveable parts.

Lola Rasminsky, founder and director of the Avenue Road Arts School, says this is part and parcel of 21st-century thinking.

“People no longer have situations where they are content just being observers. [They want to] put themselves into it. Children are tactile, ” she says.

The teachers also hope the skills developed in art class will help kids in the future. “It empowers them, it builds their confidence,” says Ms. Frost.

And in a world that is changing so quickly, art allows children to see things in a different way, a skill that is required today, says Ms. Rasminsky. Businesses are starting to sit up and take notice of the advantages art brings to inventive thinking. BCE and Nortel have sent some of their corporate staff to Ms. Rasminsky’s art classes to help them think more creatively in their daily jobs.

Walking in the Shoes of the Masters: Children Look at Art Through Time, Sept. 4-15, 2000, 8 am to 8 pm, Metro Hall Rotunda, 55 John St.

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