Thursday, March 6, 2008

Portrait a Young Artist

Last May, as we were just getting this blog off the ground, I wrote a post about our children's involvement with Rosanna the company. At the time, Mimmo's son Marco was working in accounting, my older daughter Alessandra was working on our book proposal, and my youngest Francesca was designing a new collection, which I mentioned would be out Spring 2008.

Nearly a year later, here we are! I'd like to introduce to all of you Francesca's very first dinnerware line, Portrait of A Young Artist. The name of this line was inspired by James Joyce's famous novel Portrait of An Artist As A Young Man, but the line itself was all Francesca.

When we traveled to Washington, DC last April, we visited the National Gallery. Francesca went around the whole museum with a video camera, narrating as she saw different works by Impressionists, classical Italian painters, and classical statues from ancient Greece. She especially loved the three paintings by Johannes Vermeer, recently portrayed by Colin Firth in the film Girl With The Pearl Earring.

Francesca was enthralled by Vermeer's work, and when I suggested perhaps she could design a dinnerware line based on her inspiration, I didn't have to say much more.

Francesca's dishes are collaged with a mixture of her own representations of famous paintings, including works by Monet and Renoir.

Here's a shot of the collection.

A photo of Francesca painting a plate in a ceramic factory in Deruta, Italy this summer.

While designing your own set of dishes as a child may seem like a singular experience, with the event of paint your own pottery studios, Francesca's situation is not so impossible to recreate. But whatever sparks you child's enthusiasm, be it painting, drawing, acting, singing, or playing a musical instrument, I encourage you strongly to expose your children to the arts. We often assume that children don't have the attention span for a trip to the museum or a night at the theater or ballet. But, if you choose a show carefully, beautiful art can inspire and enthrall children the same way it does adults.

Arts education is so very vital. Too often, arts education funding is cut from the budget in favor of raising money for a new gymnasium or other "more important" activities. But the arts are just as valuable to raising curious, well-rounded children as the rest. By teaching our children about the arts we are being advocates for the arts, raising another generation of patrons, creators, and performers. And that is something to be proud of.

1. Bring your child to an art exhibition in your community on a weekend afternoon. Buy a guide on the artist or show so you can describe each piece and engage your child.

2. Make an outing to the theater a special event. Have your child invite a friend. Go out to dinner or lunch afterwards and talk together about what you just saw.

3. Take your child to family concerts in your community.

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