Child Artists at Work

There is a well-known quote by Pablo Picasso, which goes like this:

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

Perhaps these words appeal to me because they touch on the delightful imagination a child possesses, and how freely that creativity is expressed through art with little fear or hesitation. Taking a look at some of our collection items that show children in their element, absorbed in their art, I noticed that many photographers have similarly been drawn to capturing those moments of creativity and creation that sometimes feel lost to adults. Perhaps this desire to maintain the artist within is one of the reasons Peter Pan never wanted to grow up!

Children learning to draw in an art class at a "commune school" in China. Photograph by Jean Norwood, 1979. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppss.00524

Children learning to draw in an art class at a “commune school” in China. Photo by Jean Norwood, 1979. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppss.00524

As seen in the image above, growing children are often in classes, developing their skills. Below, we see one young man learning to draw from a radio broadcast!

Master Harold Shaver of Jersey City learns to draw by listening in to lessons broadcast by WOR. Photograph by Morris Rosenfeld, 1924. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a38916

Master Harold Shaver of Jersey City learns to draw by listening in to lessons broadcast by WOR. Photo by Morris Rosenfeld, 1924. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a38916

There is also something most charming about letting creativity run wild! Below, two youngsters let loose on their easels!

New Britain, Connecticut. A child care center, opened September 15, 1942, for thirty children, age two to five, of mothers engaged in war industry. The hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days per week. Children painting and coloring. Photo by Gordon Parks, June 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d30782

New Britain, Connecticut. A child care center, opened September 15, 1942, for thirty children, age two to five, of mothers engaged in war industry. The hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days per week. Children painting and coloring. Photo by Gordon Parks, June 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d30782

In a more recent photo, things look a little different, with bright screens and neon lights. Below, Carol Highsmith captured such a scene of youngsters learning how to create art on computers in the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

Children learn art from computers at the ArtWorks center in the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama. Photograph by Carol Highsmith, 2010 February 20. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.05607

Children learn art from computers at the ArtWorks center in the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama. Photo by Carol Highsmith, 2010 February 20. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.05607

 

Art classes for children / REK. Poster from Illinois WPA Art Project, between 1936 and 1940. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b48787

Art classes for children / REK. Poster from Illinois WPA Art Project, between 1936 and 1940. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b48787

Learn More:

Pictures that Make Us Happy

The Prints and Photographs Division’s collections include images that evoke every possible emotion. This year’s International Day of Happiness – designated by the United Nations to recognize that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and to help more people meet that goal –  felt like a fitting time to take an informal […]

Posters of the Winter Season

The following is a guest post by Jan Grenci, Reference Specialist for Posters, Prints and Photographs Division. Winter is one of my favorite seasons, what with the snow, and the cookies, and the caroling. There are a number of posters in the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division that illustrate some of the things […]

Artwork by Chicano Movement “Artivist” Mario Torero

The following is a guest post by Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints, Prints & Photographs Division. When Juan Felipe Herrera was exploring Library of Congress collections to share through his Poet Laureate project El Jardín (The Garden): La Casa de Colores, he was interested to learn what we have by Chicano Movement artists. We […]

The Bonds of Liberty: a World War I Liberty Loan Poster

The following is a guest post by Jonathan Eaker, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division. When the second rotation of the exhibit, “World War I: American Artists View the Great War,” opened with a new set of objects from Prints & Photographs Division collections, one striking poster jumped out at me. It shows a pair […]

Thanksgiving Day 1918

This year we have special and moving cause to be grateful and to rejoice. God has in His good pleasure given us peace. It has not come as a mere cessation of arms, a mere relief from the strain and tragedy of war. It has come as a great triumph of right. Complete victory has […]

Picturing a Love of Reading

The love of reading crosses all boundaries, appealing to people of all ages, races, genders, and walks of life. For hundreds of years, readers have opened books to learn about history or science or to discover new, imaginary worlds. Books have furnished inspiration, excitement, and relaxation. The possibilities are limitless. Within our collections, I found […]