Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kids enjoy a tour of AGHC!

Last week the American Gothic House Center gave tours to Eldon’s Living Hope Preschool. On Thursday morning, 18 three-year-olds quietly entered the building in two straight lines and sat down on the floor, anxious to learn about, well… pretty much anything. They were like little sponges, absorbing facts about Grant Wood, the American Gothic House, and the famous painting. With just a slight prompt throughout the morning, they would excitedly repeat these facts in answer to my questions.

After pointing out the painting’s repeated shapes (CIRCLES!! STRAIGHT LINES! DIAMONDS!!), establishing the characters (My dad is a farmer! My mom is a farmer, too!), and talking about how great it is that a famous artist like Grant Wood visited their town and made a painting of the house here, the kids patiently sat through an animated film. Then, they got to make their own art.

Given one or two crayons and a line drawing of the American Gothic House, the three-year-olds proceeded to color. Some were meticulously staying inside every line, holding crayons tightly between tiny fingers and pressing hard so the wax shone on the paper. Others took a more abstract approach, loosely scrawling across the page without concern for the house shape below. The artist in me couldn’t help but wonder how growing up exposed to an art icon such as the American Gothic House will affect these mini-humans. With teachers like those at Living Hope, prompting the kids to come back with their families and getting excited along with their students, I expect at least a few artists in the bunch.

Some interesting articles came up this week and last about kids and their artistic pursuits. A story in the Daily Nonpareil Online describes students in Council Bluffs, home of a Wood mural, studying Grant Wood. An exhibition spotlighting children’s art in Mason City, as reported by the Globe Gazette, featured a parody of American Gothic. Ever heard anyone describe an abstract painting with the phrase “My child could have done this.”? Take a look at this study comparing children’s art to the art of famous abstract painters—the results may surprise you!

Grant Wood was an artist from early childhood, and his sister Nan was, too. As you’ll find out when you visit our new exhibit, Nan Wood Graham: Beyond the Farmer’s Daughter, when Nan was a girl she won an art contest and received a small cook stove for a prize. Young Nan's classic childlike enthusiasm caused her to faint from the thrill of winning! I'd bet that she and Grant would be equally thrilled at the enthusiasm kids today are showing for American Gothic.

I hope to see you tomorrow night (6-7pm) at the exhibit premier!

Molly Moser

American Gothic House Center

Only a couple of weeks left to sign up for the American Gothic House Center’s annual bus trip to discover Grant Wood country! You can view a detailed itinerary of the trip on our website. The itinerary has links to all the collections we’ll be visiting. Call me at 641.652.3352, or respond to this email to e collections we’ll be visiting. Call me at 641.652.3352, or respond to this email to reserve your seat!

The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenue, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to match the Iowa Cultural Trust Endowment Challenge Grant and will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!

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