I have recently started reading the book “Becoming” by Carol Mavor. In it this morning I read that there is a cliche of “the artist as eternal child.” I found this interesting and it got me rethinking my wonderings about the connections between the idea of “child” and “childlike” and being creative as an adult. I wondered if I had been evoking this cliche in my writing about my work when talking about how I as “artist” relate to children, but I don’t think I have.
In making photographs relating to children/childhood I have often gotten the comment that the images are “childlike” or that they are about me as an adult looking at things from a “child’s point of view.” This always struck me as odd because it seems to me it was MY point of view I was exploring. It is from examining these two ways of looking at this that led me to the discourse of childhood and how it has developed and changed over time.
My original interest began with how our understanding of childhood is changing toward the “knowing” child and our understanding of adulthood is changing toward the adult no longer as a state of completion that a child develops toward but as ever “developing” or as always becoming. This, put simplistically, results in children being seen as “beyond their years,” being given more power and say in their lives and adults having multiple career changes, marrying later, having kids later and continuing to learn and “grow” throughout one’s life. This shift in ideas of child/adult also correlates to changes in economics and societal structures.
So basically the boundaries of these two categories of people are blurring. And because of this, I would say my pictures are in fact about my adult point of view relating to the people and spaces around me. Maybe in a way I’m talking about claiming this way of looking and way of experiencing the world around me as ADULT. While at the same time children are being thought of as already complete human beings not the blank slates to be filled. 🙂
Anyway, some things I found interesting in the book (p25):
Modernist art “grew hand in hand with the invention of a new understanding of childhood: as free, unsullied, playful, utopically in touch with the world.”
“For Baudelaire, the skill of an artist turned on his ability to find ‘childhood recovered at will.’ For ‘the child sees everything as novelty; he is always intoxicated.'”
Mavor also says that Freud believed “that to find childhood is to make art.” and “D.W. Winnicott saw…the artist’s creation of objects (as) and extension and refinement of childhood play.”
(Included above and below are some iphone pictures)