Finding treasures of the heart; encourage children to love art

A children's drawing, artist and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Lani Puriri, St. George News

FEATURE — When purging closets and drawers one often finds long forgotten treasures. On the occasion of packing and moving I recently encountered files full of drawings and paintings created by my children when they were young. Glancing through the variety of single pages, I enjoyed beautiful flowers, palm trees, and sunshine. On the more vigorous side were cars, trucks and even a flipbook of karate kicks drawn with pencil on a pad of sticky notepaper.

A children's drawing, abstract gouache, location and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Lani Puriri, St. George News
A children’s drawing, abstract gouache, artist and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Lani Puriri, St. George News

You may have drawers full of the same, or perhaps a fridge covered with these masterpieces. Sorting through these files generated a plethora of memories and sparked a certain ideology: children are naturally drawn to the arts. They can be mesmerized for hours with a box of crayons or watercolors and a pile of blank paper.

This can be the beginning of art enrichment, and an opportunity for children to express emotion – be it negative or positive – through creative response rather than speech. It can be interpreted as a subjective response, because it is a personal depiction of the world as seen through the eyes of a child. This type of art is not invented, but rather, a product of imagination with some external grounding.

A children's drawing of a home and family, location and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Lani Puriri, St. George News
A children’s drawing of a home and family, artist and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Lani Puriri, St. George News

Children who are encouraged to create masterpieces by combining personal expression with what they experience will gain a greater appreciation for the world around them and be better equipped to deal with emotional difficulties. The key is to enrich the experience so that the outcome can be well represented. One way to do this is by deliberate exposure to beautiful masterpieces of art and music.

Here in the St. George area we are fortunate to have the Cultural Arts Department of Dixie State University to provide visual and performing arts for students and the community at large. The first quarter of the new year will be bursting with outstanding performances through the Celebrity Concert Series and those provided by the DSU dance, music and theatre departments.

A small girl pulling the string of a cloud, depicting ideas and happiness, location and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Lani Puriri, St. George News
A small girl pulling the string of a cloud, depicting ideas and happiness, artist and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Lani Puriri, St. George News

In addition to these performances, each year for nearly 30 years the university celebrates art through the Robert N. and Peggy Sears Dixie Invitational Art Show and Sale. The show is an opportunity to enhance the gallery, but also a way for children to engage in a visual art experience. While strolling through the gallery one might consider gifting art to a local school so that these students can continue to enjoy fine art when the lights of the Sears Invitational go dim.

We know the challenges our children face as they encounter day-to-day life. Pablo Picasso said:

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

A contribution of art to a local school may assist in brightening the life of a child so they are reminded of happiness amid stressful moments. The art can also motivate creativity and strengthen the mind of a child. Children delight in creative pieces that are displayed on the refrigerator. When they are young it sometimes seems like clutter in the kitchen.

Fast forward many years and these splashes of watercolors and colorful lines of crayon become treasured masterpieces to be cherished.

Lani Puriri
Lani Puriri

Written by Lani Puriri for St. George Health & Wellness Magazine and St. George News.

Lani Puriri is the operations manager for DSU’s Cultural Arts Community Outreach and DOCUTAH. Contact her at lani@dixie.edu.

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