Proud to Play

By Sarah Norman, Arts Specialist, Garfield Park Arts Center

“When did we stop drawing just for the fun of it? Did we lose some part of ourselves when we conformed to coloring inside the lines?”

We are a playful bunch at The Garfield Park Arts Center (GPAC). From hiding toy hedgehogs around the office to blowing bubbles off our balcony, you can expect to find us giggling about something silly happening. We bring this fun-loving attitude to our programs and events.

Our campers learn how to make their own larger-than-life plush germs, our students joke around with us (and bake us yummy food!), and parents can’t stop themselves from joining in when their children are working on a free project in our Arts for All.

At the GPAC, we believe art can be a fun, rewarding experience no matter who you are. How often do you get to go on a Sketch Scavenger Hunt? Or participate in a Chinese Dragon Dance, on a dragon YOU helped design? Preschoolers paint on walls like cavemen, artists doodle creatures on sidewalks, and even the quick visitor can smile about the monkey painted in our family restroom.

“Kids know how to play. They are experts at it. They practice play all the time. They can’t stop.”

There are many ways to think about art. Too often it is seen as something specialized, intangible, or beyond understanding. People shy away from art galleries or cringe when you ask them to draw something. When did we stop drawing just for the fun of it? Did we lose some part of ourselves when we conformed to coloring inside the lines? Picasso once said “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. “

Well, if the illustrious Picasso claims that all children are artists, it must be so. Where do these kids learn to be artists? How do they tirelessly produce work after work? How do they continuously get their artwork shown on the fridge?

The answer: kids know how to play. They are experts at it. They practice play all the time. They can’t stop. They play in theatre camp, manipulating puppets and using goofy voices. They play in music class, stomping and clapping along while their instructor plays the guitar. They play in the art room, drawing very specific animals with stories. It’s this expertise that allows them to create, uninhibited.

Now in its 17th year, the Spirit and Place Festival has chosen “Play” as its theme for 2012. The GPAC is thrilled to be involved, and we hope to see you there, playing like a kid.

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