Thursday, August 28, 2008

Arachnophobia antidote

There's this thing to marvel at: the mastery of the world's quirks by a growing kid. E's language acquisition, like all kids, began with the literal. Idioms confused and frustrated her. But now that she's becoming fluent in her first language she tosses off phrases like they're natural, which more and more readily they are. The girl who used to say give me that or can I have that now says hand me that, and doesn't realize how incredible that is. On Sunday when Aunt Esther was here the five of us drove up to the aquarium, so M sat in the back between the girls' carseats, and when I later asked E if it was fun for Daddy to sit next to her she said no, because he was too close and I don't like him getting in my face. Playground tough from a kid whose hair is barely long enough for pigtails?

Look at these slender will'o'the'wisp pigtails, dependent on many little clips and rubberbands for mere existence. (All purple, of course.)

On the spectrum of expression, E has crossed the line from literal to colloquial. To artistic. To knowing enough rules to be able to play with the rules.

That is, as pertains to language arts. What is so interesting is that during this leap, she's achieved the ability to go in exactly the opposite direction in the visual arts. And that's a remarkable growth. She's just left the realm of non-representational for representational. Actually recognizable representational. Scribbles that were interchangeable are beginning to have meaning.

This weekend she said Mommy! Look! I'm going to draw a sun! And then she did.

Okay, so I have a Master's degree that was earned in large part through the detailed study of iconography, and that sun is more primitive than anything found in the caves at Lascaux. I don't care; I'm enthralled.

Then she said: now I'm going to draw a spider! Look!

He's a little squashy looking, a little like the Cliff's Notes version of the sun drawing, but I love him. I think it's safe to say I've never loved a spider more. The intent was there, and the process, and those are hallmarks of all the great post-Modernists.

Realism died between Manet and Turner over 150 years ago. It might be time to start exposing E to art in a formal manner. We can give her a general loose tour of the evolution of realism to abstraction by going downtown to the National Gallery. And we can walk through the sculpture garden to visit Louise Bourgeois' Spider. I think Louise would really like that little drawing up there.

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