Reid didn’t have school on Friday and I was super-excited that her day off coincided with a program for preschoolers at the National Gallery of Canada. I like the Gallery but since I don’t have any background in art, I’m a bit intimidated. In any case, the theme of the activity was “big and small” and I thought we could manage it.
We arrived just a bit before the program started at 10:30. The activity leaders started off with a bit of exercise where the kids made themselves very small and then they slowly got very big. They talked about big and little things and one of the kids named a spider as a small thing but Reid immediately squirmed and started whispering about “Maman”, the giant spider sculpture in front of the museum. The leaders had us all look at her/it. The kids were asked to supply the 3 rules for being in the galleries:
1. No touching the artwork;
2. No running in the galleries; and
3. No talking in loud voices;
plus a couple of others like “no hitting” and “no biting” that were supplied by the kids and deemed to be good rules for life in general.
We all trooped up the stairs to the contemporary art galleries – a place I usually move through quickly. I don’t understand most of the works and can’t explain them to Reid. The first artwork we stopped at was a mobile, twice as big as an adult and made of metal, several of the kids said it made them think of a tree. I thought it looked more like a maple key or a feather but I kept my opinions to myself since only the kids were asked to contribute. I was glad I had since it turned out that the artwork was named “Jacarinda“, after a tree that grows in hot, dry places. Next, after a series of reminders not to touch the artwork, we stopped at a piece that was made up of 137 off-white bricks, lined up one beside the next and extending out from the wall. The kids wanted confirmation that they were, in fact, looking at a work of art. They talked about how many small things could make up a large thing and then moved onto a sculpture that was made up of a series of tin boxes in a sort of ladder effect. The final piece of art looked to me, and many of the kids, to be a pile of strips of carpet. The kids grudgingly agreed that it might look like fire but said that they were pretty sure that it looked as though something might be hidden underneath. The leaders passed around tiny pom-poms and the kids each made their own little sculpture and then piled them all together to make a big sculpture – big makes small plus sharing in one fell swoop.
We went back to the Grand Hall and the kids made sculptures from Crayola Model Magic clay. We’ve never used that before. It is way cool! It’s light, like foam, but smooth and the colours don’t blend together as fast as Playdough does. When it dried, it was hard but still light. Reid made a three-scoop ice cream cone with eyes on the cone and a feather sticking out of the top ice cream ball. I was more-than-ready to eat a real ice cream by the time the activity wrapped up at 11:30 but we ate our sandwiches – the new normal is a rolled up ancient grain tortilla with luncheon meat – and started our trek to North Bay.
I’m not sure if Reid has anymore PA days this year but if she does, I hope they coincide with the National Gallery’s preschool programs.