Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center
Art Specialist Intern
For the last half of my internship, I had the opportunity to do something I absolutely love: making art with young friends. I visited the Cottontails, Penguins, Fireflies, Toucans, and Dragonflies classes twice each during the month of July.
Every class, I began with reading a storybook that could trigger some ideas for the day's activity. A short discussion time followed along about the book, where children shared their brilliant observation. Then I introduced the main activity, mostly sensory and open-ended, often showing demonstrations on how to use the materials. I was quite nervous whether children would be interested in the activities, but each artwork turned out to be fun and unique. To me, just being there with the children was a joyful moment.
Art with Twos
I started off with reading one of my favorite children's books, "Matthew's Dream". I emphasized that ANYTHING could be art, including food, landscape, and even ourselves. I briefly introduced Robert Rauschenberg, an artist who used everyday objects onto his artworks, blurring the border between 2-dimension and 3-dimension works. In order to encourage children to explore different objects, I had brought in various kinds of small objects, such as pasta shells, beads, short straws, yarn, stickers, paper pieces, pompoms, and etc. I handed out hardboard pieces to each student and guided them to use glue to attach the objects to the surface. Some friends were very creative and experimental on using the small objects; for example, one friend glued the straws to stand on the surface, which made a sculptural piece. There were also friends who showed interest in certain materials such as stickers or pasta shells. Overall, everyone spent a good amount of time to work on their art piece, and each one of them was absolutely fun and artistic!
Art with Infants
With the youngest friends of the center, I explored ice painting. I first read a short storybook called "Little Blue and Little Yellow" to introduce a color-mixing activity. Then, I demonstrated the activity of rolling paint-frozen ice cubes on paper. As the ice cubes melted down, the primary colors naturally mixed in, making an abstract piece of work. More importantly, our little friends enjoyed the sensory experience of touching and exploring the cold ice cubes!
Art with Toddlers
With the toddler classes, I introduced a book called "Mouse Paint", a story which three white mice explore the color-mixing by diving into primary color paint jars. We imagined that a white piece of yarn is a mouse. We dipped the yarn into red, yellow, and blue paint bowls and then made the yarn dance on the white paper. As the yarn playfully danced on the surface, curvy lines and dots appeared and created an Jackson Pollock-like abstract piece of art. Children had so much fun with the yarn painting and I loved playing with little artists as well.
About the internship
I primarily worked with the CIEL team for the first half of my internship, assisting family programs, conferences, class exhibitions and various events. For the next half, I facilitated art activities visiting infants and toddler classes, as well as having studio time every afternoon with preschool level children.