For young residents in Qatar, art – in the form of murals, paintings, sculptures, installations, pop-up studios, and light and sound projections – is a permanent part of their daily lives; they’re constantly exposed to one form of artwork or the other at malls, parks, public walkways, traffic junctions, and metro stations. Now, a course developed by the department of Community and Continuing Education (CCE) at VCUarts Qatar intends to take those art encounters a step further.
The University’ CCE wing is launching a Children’s Summer Art and Design Program 2021, online. Unlike typical summer art classes that enhance technical skills such as sketching, shading and painting, this program will also introduce 7-to-9-year-olds to art appreciation and art history. This virtual course will take place over four weeks from July 4 to August 5, and will be led by Nourbanu Feras Hijazi and Salma Awad, who are experienced in teaching art to children. Parents can access further information by visiting the VCUarts Qatar website.
Art appreciation is as much about ‘looking’ as it is about ‘doing’. Mindful of this, the University has developed a schedule that includes virtual visits to museums and galleries, alongside hands-on activities. During these visits and discussions, participants will be introduced to age-appropriate details about various movements that have influenced the evolution of art over the last century. These include Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Conceptualism, and Contemporary Art. They will also familiarize themselves with iconic artwork created by renowned artists from each movement.
These sessions will give also children an idea of the different professionals – curators, art historians, artists, and art critiques – involved in the global fine art landscape, and what they do. They will even get a chance to be mini curators, historians, artists and critics themselves, as they take turns critiquing or describing artwork!
All sessions are open to both genders and are taught in English. Upon completion of the course, each young attendee will receive a certificate of participation.
VCUarts Qatar’s new course comes at a time when educators have noticed how young children benefit from learning about different artistic styles. For instance, early introduction to art appreciation has been found to improve communication skills, and concept development. Art appreciation also helps boost a child’s multisensory faculties; this happens as children learn about the details and techniques – brush strokes, spatial perspectives, light and shading, shape and structure – specific to a style, and attempt to reinterpret and recreate it.
By helping children understand the reasons behind an artist’s choice of style, or theme, art appreciation sharpens critical thinking and analytical capabilities. Moreover, as they learn about various art movements, young minds develop an understanding of the personal background of a specific artist; the cultural context in which an art work was created; and the symbolism, if present, behind it. This in turn helps them appreciate other cultures, ethnic groups and histories.