I was contemplating visiting a local gallery this weekend and happened upon a blog mention of the current show that is running. I followed the review down to the comments portion of the post and noticed one reader's personal public service announcement stating that the show was inappropriate for children. This actually bothered me quite a bit... This particular artist's work is darker than what many people find palatable in art, but is definitely not anything vulgar or crass.
I really don't understand people who think children should be sheltered from controversial or challenging art. Why not allow your children to confront what they are seeing and experiencing like everyone else and let them form their own opinions? What better opportunity do parents have to engage in an equal and open minded exchange of ideas with their children than in the presence of and through art?
A child's opinion is just as valid as an adult's. Their reactions may be more visceral than intellectual but there is nothing wrong with that and it doesn't negate their response to what they are seeing.
Art in general is a world created through impulse, via imagination. Children live in a world of imagination. It's foolish for adults to think that they can not or will not be able to understand or process what they are seeing. Art is spoken in their language, a language that they live and breathe and one which most adults only casually dabble in, even if it is dark. Fantasy and imagination is the mortar upon which their entire world is built (and that world has become a short stay vacation spot for most people). So why would we not allow our children to broaden their visual horizons and have access to these ideas, images, and experiences? Because what they see might confuse them? Because it might scare them? Or is that because we are afraid it will confuse and scare us?
I find it always so amazing that some people think young minds are so painfully blank and simplistic. They are not. Children understand more than we know. Why would you want to limit their experience of the world by restricting their access to culture? Why not give them the keys and let them open their own doors?
Experiencing art is rich and rewarding and restricting a child's access to this is just tragic. i don't believe in dumbing down the world for our children - how will they ever understand their place in it if they have only selectively experienced it?