By Julia Einstein
Coordinator of Youth and Family Program
“Oh my gosh, these pieces of artwork are breathtaking! Who would even imagine they were created by preschoolers!!!” -Dorothy Kosinski, LSW, Children’s Services Team Leader at Child & Family Services, a program of PROP—Peoples Regional Opportunity Program.
As you look at young artists’ interpretations of the art of trompe l’oeil (meaning to “fool the eye”)—a style of painting in which objects appear to be real rather than rendered—you’ll see the happy faces and the visual artist signatures of Jesel, Adrianna, Marwa, and Tristan. You’ll see how each object has been carefully arranged onto a real wood board and placed together like pieces of a puzzle. Is it real? Notice a feather—as if from a William Harnett still life, coins and currency from the world of artist John Haberle and torn cards and paper like those found in the rack paintings by Frederick Peto. See them as the young children from Head Start did—as a looking game.
Head Start in the Museum is a new community partnership with the students and teachers of three Pre-K classrooms in Portland’s PROP Program. Fifty-three students (ages 3 to 5) and six teachers participated over the course of three visits meant to celebrate the joy in sharing Museum experiences with the very youngest of audiences!
Portland Museum of Art gallery teachers, Nancy Marino, Barbara Hoppin, Wendy Seltzer, and Cricket King helped us create a child to adult ratio of 2:1, and we began in the children’s Deering Place classrooms on Cumberland Avenue and Parkside. We liked exploring our Museum neighborhood and helping each child use a special artist’s viewfinder to look through and discover the Museum as walked, holding hands, up High Street to Congress Square. Once inside the Museum, we went into the special exhibition John Haberle: American Master of Illusion and spent about five minutes with four different paintings. As each painting represents a different approach to the artist’s subject, this gave us the opportunity to take a different approach to looking and “reading” art. We carried small toy binoculars and asked, “Can you believe your eyes?” We look longer and we smiled as we discovered the illusion. We continued on to our Community Studio for an art-making activity. The most fun was making new friends and working with wonderful teachers, Sharon Roach, Sarah Noyes, Carrie McLean, Lenore Hilton, Missy Wlodylo, and Julie Sullivan-Drouin.
“All the children have enjoyed the experience. They recognize the museum when we have taken other walks. One child, who understood the concept of the images being pretend, was looking at the artwork and trying to tell if it was real or ‘a trick’ as he put it.” -Sharon Roach, Teacher/Family Advocate at Deering Place Child Development Center.
PROP, People’s Regional Opportunity Program administers the federal Head Start program in Cumberland County for children aged 3 to 5. This program is FREE to qualifying families. In Head Start, children learn through play.