The walls in my classroom are mostly filled with children’s art, as it should be. Gone are the flashy colors and cute teacher decorations. I learned long ago they are more of a distraction than anything else to children. My one non-child piece of art displayed in the classroom is a poster of Starry Night, the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh. I have had it hanging for years, above the loft, where children can easily see it every day.
I really didn’t do much with the poster. It wasn’t necessarily part of my curriculum, although sometimes we talked about the art when we prepared for our annual art show. It was just ‘there’, something beautiful to look at.
That changed when Juliet and her family visited MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York. Her mom sent me this photo, and told me how Juliet was so excited to see Starry Night – the art she had always loved and remembered from her years in my classroom.
I had no idea. She never told me. But, isn’t that how it is with art? Children internalize their environment. They may not talk about it, but they feel it. Juliet certainly did.
As the years have gone by, Starry Night has been replicated, admired, studied and often discussed in my classroom. It is an Aqua Room symbol of love and joy. It is part of who we are. And, it keeps growing.
For example, when the children were painting on wood in the style of Renaissance art, Liam shook his head no and said, “I want to paint that”, pointing to Starry Night. Of course I got him the paint colors- blue, yellow, white, and black. After a short while he asked me for red. Red?
“Liam, there isn’t any red in Starry Night.”
“Yes there is.”
“In the house. The red house.”
“What red house?”
The one near the bottom.”
“Liam, come and show me.”
We went to the top of the loft, and sure enough there it was – a red house! I had no idea. All these years and I never saw it. Liam did. Children often see things that adults miss.
He painted the house and was very satisfied with his work of art.
The red house story has been told and retold over the past years. I have yet to meet an adult that knew of the house. This Christmas I was thrilled to receive a hand made pair of fleece socks, complete with the little red house, from a former Aqua Room parent. Her children were Starry Night lovers, too.
Starry Night lives on and will forever be. Happy New Year to all!