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Saturday April 19, 2014
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How Do Kids Connect to Art?



Henry Crissman, a potter volunteering at the Art Activity Zone, sees a different kind of connection between kids and artists: "When you are a kid, you expect you are supposed to become something when you are older, and that's frightening. Getting older can be scary. Then you see someone making artwork and making a living doing something that you know is fun. That's a real connecting point between kids and artists.

"With kids," he continues, "success is not making the perfect cup. It's having the experience. Tell them they are allowed to have fun, and tell them, 'You are in charge.'"

Crissman describes a memorable Ann Arbor experience: "One little boy named Jude with wild blond hair--he was about six--waited in a line about fifty kids long. When it was his turn, Crissman recalls, the boy announced, 'I'm a Buddhist,' and he proceeded to explain what that meant. Then he sat down at the wheel, his first time ever, and threw a beautiful vase. It was amazing."

Full-time clown and entertainer David Priest has volunteered as a face painter with the fair for several years. "Most parents," he says, "are out of touch with their kids. The number one thing they do to ruin a kid's experience is to tell them, 'Don't be scared.' He describes parents of a kid screaming in fear saying, 'I'll hold him down and you do the work.' He says that Ann Arbor parents are better than most. They know to let the kids watch what is going on, and sometimes mommy gets her face painted first.

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