Growth and Psychology:
It is well known and widely accepted that children go through a succession of well defined stages. Although development is uneven, with periods of temporary regression, the order of succession of these stages is given and invariable. To use block building as an example the very young child carries the blocks around and places them in random fashion. In time the placements become less random as blocks are used to make simple enclosures, creates stacks of blocks, etc. These enclosures and the simple patterns formed gradually become elaborated shapes which the builder begins to name. The shapes are gradually combined and linked in two and three dimensions into elaborate designs which are now named through signs made by the teacher. The child begins to use accessory materials (model people and animals). Still later the designs become articulated into well defined structures populated by people at work and play. Streets, street signs, buildings and vehicles are named and signed by the child himself and the functional aspects of structural units and of those who populate the city are considered.
Through the manipulation of open ended, concrete materials like the unit blocks very young children learn about concepts that are at once spatial and mathematical. This experience over time manifests the construction of primitive mathematical instruments: classifications, substitutions, symmetrical relations (correspondences), assymetrical relations (seriation), the multiplication of relations, etc. These instruments are then used to express the acquired knowledge through the processes of making art: drawing, painting, sculpture and woodworking. The young child’s first drawings are know as scribbles, circular motions that involve the whole arm. The child at this stage of development is pre-operational, that is he has no concepts but only pre concepts. He cannot perform operations, which require reversible thinking. He navigates a sensori-motor space which is non Euclidean, but rather topological. Topological space is concerned not with angle and distance information, or with measurement, but rather with such elementary qualities as proximity, separation, surrounding, neighborhood, order and to a limited extent with continuity.
As in block building the child’s experience with art will develop through a series of well defined stages that proceed through simple placements on the picture plane, a stage of forming enclosures with objects inside and outside of the enclosure, then a shape stage, a stage of more and more elaborate designs, followed by the final stage of representation. The expression of these increasingly elaborated and well articulated stages combines the concrete with the abstract, the cognitive with the emotional. The child’s increasing ability to use the skills he is developing in drawing and painting to communicate his growing knowledge of the world he is constructing out of experience. His work embodies a rudimentary form of the scientific method: the study and articulation of synergy, or the relationship of the parts to the whole.
A beginning understanding of the qualitative relations of topological space (proximity, separation, order and enclosure), and the expression of these understandings through drawing and painting is essential to later mastery of the more difficult quantitative relations involved in projective space (viewpoints), affine relations (parallelism), and euclidean (three dimensional) space (measurement). The cognitive understanding of young children develops when he expresses his ideas through drawing and painting, through the development of the graphic image. This (spatio-mathematical) dialogue that accrues on the surface of the picture plane is responsible for the eventual attainment of the slanted line, found in the rhombus, necessary for the construction of numbers and letters. All of these concepts and cognitive skills, learned through experience with concrete objects and articulated, rehearsed, and understood through the process of making art, form the foundation for the development of mathematics and science skills, and for writing.
In today’s world of international trade and cultural exchange it is essential that educators find ways to reach out and develop from the top down. Jardin Galerie has taken the unprecedented initiative of creating a vehicle for multicultural exchange by creating an internet gallery that showcases the art work of children of all ages from all over the world.
Thus children who speak different languages and have different customs, habits and rituals are able to compare and contrast their ideas, interests, ways of working and expressing their individuality through their art work. Children in NYC are able to view the work of children from many far away lands and conversely children in these locals can view the work of our children. Names of different places are given a face, a name and an identity. Children, parents and teachers are provided with a vehicle which allows them to compare and contrast how we are different and how we may be similar, or even the same. By using themes of universal interest that all children devote themselves to for several months a common framework is provided with which comparisons can be made across ages and other individual differences, revealing our commonalities and our unique individual differences. It is expected that the body of work that is brought together for viewing and study will help to bridge the chasms that separate and divide us: socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability and language. We intend to validate the belief that differences in cultures and populations and abilities only serve to enrich the experience of the viewer and our knowledge of one another.