Friday, May 9, 2014

The Art in my Heart

When I was a young, working single, I was surprised by how often executives had children’s art displayed prominently in their offices. The rest of their office décor was generally tasteful prints or paintings, interesting sculptures, various trophies or framed awards, a family portrait here or there. But amidst the “true” art, there would be a crayon drawing, a small handprint in paint, an unidentifiable lump of fired clay. I understood, at a certain level, that these were pieces of their children, mementoes of the smallest members of their families. But until I had children myself, I didn’t understand fully what these bits of immature artwork represent.

I don’t have an office, but my refrigerator is covered in such artwork. Twice a week, my son brings home a project from school. In the recent past, it has been a cutout paper window with two red felt tulips glued in the center, a letter C covered in cotton ball clouds, a smiling bunny made of miniature marshmallows glued onto pink paper, and – my personal favorite – a flower made from a green paint handprint with a photo of my son’s smiling face pasted in the middle. (His shame-faced admission that he had tasted the paste was the icing on the artistic cake.)

I understand now that the beauty of this art is not only in seeing the developing motor skills of a child, but in the sweetness of that child’s excitement in presenting the results of his artistic hard work to a beloved parent. Its beauty is in capturing a moment in time which will pass all too quickly – the small hand reaching for mine now will become a larger one seeking its own way. The messy, random brush strokes will mature into controlled, well thought-out technique. The teacher’s handwriting will soon become his own, at first labored and later neat and even. This artwork is a moment in time, a moment of innocence, and sweetness, and confidence, and potential. It captures, even more than a photograph can, the split-second of my son as he is now.

It’s not just the art on my fridge. It’s the art in my heart.

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