My first afternoon session today at ALA Midwinter Meeting 2017 was run by two people from Avon Public Library in Connecticut, “The Creative Edge: How One Small Library Is Leading the Way in Creative Arts Programming.”
Mary Fletcher’s official title is Creativity Specialist. She has been in charge of a program where they have brought the arts into the library.
Arts are not crafts. Art is an open-ended process. Art has no planned product. Art is open-ended. Art has no adult sample to copy. Art can be spontaneous.
A pre-planned craft can discourage creative choices.
The presenters showed us many pictures from their Open Art Studio. I liked the image of a wall covered with buildings made of paper. No two buildings are exactly alike. Together, they form a wonderfully diverse town.
I was writing furiously. I’ll include some good nuggets below:
Art is guided by the child’s choices.
When children are fascinated, they make amazing things.
We encourage exploration without imposing our ideas.
When self-motivated, kids will persist despite difficulties.
In their Open Art Studio, frustration is rare. They gain self-confidence and self-reliance.
Creativity is intelligence having fun. In the future creativity will be needed more and more.
Creative confidence hits a slump around 4th grade, when kids start wanting to conform. Creativity must be nurtured to survive.
Open-ended art encourages imaginative play and storytelling.
Scribbling is to writing as babbling is to speaking. With art, the library can support early writing as well as early reading.
A table anywhere will work, even if you don’t have the budget for a dedicated space!
The beauty of a library is that it’s not a school. They will learn, but it’s child-guided exploration. We can encourage imaginative tangents. Facilitators are intentionally quiet and unobtrusive.
Facilitators get to serve at the banquet! They provide materials designed to encourage experimentation.
They also encourage art through movement, and have hosted three Family Dances at the library.
They do a reading buddies program pairing teens with young children and spending a half-hour reading and a half-hour doing art together.
The program inspired me. Though we may not be able to have an actual studio open all the time, it made me think about having more programs involving open-ended art.