Art as Play: Working Big, John Lidstone and Clarence Bunch, 1975

Observing youngsters…leads to the inevitable conclusion that for children art is play and play is art…the more art in the classroom is like play, the more effective it is likely to be.”

“When children initiate their own activities, they are more often than not group-oriented and eventlike.  Play is inevitably more important than product, and creativity is centered as much in what to do as how to do it…large-scale activities in school tend to involve groups and to be event-centered, and therefore they are more playlike and real than traditional classroom activities.  Teachers are continually confronted by children in the art room who don’t know what to do or can’t think of an idea.  Yet these same children function effectively as creative individuals in a natural play group….working big is well worth trying as a classroom strategy.”

Working Big is billed as teacher’s guide to environmental sculpture, but really it’s about involving children in an appreciation of physical space.  Capturing the ’emptiness’ of air in tunnels and air cushions, using huge textile tapes to make geometric designs in a field or kinetic sculpture when hung on a line, it encourages teachers to move away from the art paper or art object and into the exploration of the large physical dimensions a child naturally constructs in say, their sandbox and which make art reality.  “The child is as eager to explore the world of art as he is to explore the real world outside the classroom.   He is as enthusiastic about participating in art activities as he is about the rough-and-rumble of after-school play”.

I would say “can be”…if the art is Working Big!  Inspiring and playful.  By John Lidstone and Clarence Bunch, from 1975, and available for download at publiccollectors.

Vintage copies available on amazon, too.


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