The idea of "Dawn" originated from my art education group on WeChat. The purpose of establishing the group was to build a bridge between parents and teachers so they could communicate directly while clarifying misunderstandings and questions in children's art education. This group has been full since its creation and has been warmly welcomed by many parents who care about children's art education in both China and the USA. The environment has also inspired passionate discussions among teachers who share similar educational values.
As we communicated, I found that many of them were outstanding artists themselves, so an exhibition for these teachers, organized by myself, came into being. It was widely applauded by many since the very beginning. After the initial selection, seven artists stood out, including Xiaoxue Liu, Xunmang Sheng, Shanlin Ye, Leilei Chen, and Ting Zhou, all of whom came from the U.S., and Wei Chen from Beijing.
From my point of view, children's early art education resembles the first sunbeam in the early morning, which could light a child's entire life. A remarkable art teacher should not only teach painting skills, but also warm children's hearts with affection like pale sunlight at daybreak—warm, transparent, but not scorching or violent.
While educating children, these seven artists never forgot their original will and kept up with self-reflection and practice. Their works include extensively bold attempts and explorations on concepts and techniques. As artists, they may be waiting to amaze the public, approaching the summit in their field.
These seven artists vary greatly in media and style—some use traditional easel painting while others adopt conceptual photography. These varied and high-quality works raise our awareness of the fact that maybe art itself provides opportunities for artists to keep self-reflecting and challenging themselves, while inspiring their teaching methods.
For example, Xiaoxue's works originate from children's graffiti, but her intentional color experiments intertwine with emotional entanglements. The crude doodles on the surface are the mature expressions of the artist.
Wei Chen is frequently moved by the unintentional innocence and simplicity presented in children's artwork, so he simplifies his works, just like life. In his teaching based on sketching, he insistently extracts and simplifies color and shapes, causing the increasing space between objective things and his subjective treatment. Ultimately, he forms unique painting language.
As for Niki, she learns ways of expression from children. Many children show enthusiasm on painting depending on their personal taste. Thus when encountering what they do not like, they will indulge in self-suspicion and even depression. From this, she learns to "eliminate" subjective "discrimination" and endeavors to achieve the clearness and steadiness of expression.
In Leilei Chen's college teachings, she asks students to utilize techniques from surrealism, futurism, and romanticism. Students are also asked to consult Japanese Ukiyoe and traditional Chinese realistic paintings. They need to tile colors and create fictitious space. Besides, graphic design, oriental painting, and modern painting are integrated to break the boundaries between painting and illustration. In order to provide more vivid examples to students, she draws sketches in class and finishes large paintings based on the sketches. It is because of her teaching this creative course that she clarifies her creative thoughts. Meanwhile, students' suggestions help improve her creative works.
The improvement of the visual arts learning is in an upward spiral, which means the enhancement of the overall capabilities is the expression and advancement of individual art languages, based on increasingly enhanced self-cognition. Art creation usually experiences arduous training or hard work in darkness. It is delightful to see that these seven artists have suddenly become bright and open at dawn. We foresee bright futures for them.
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