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The Art of Being Green

Rob Goyanes

Weaving work at the Art of Being Green. Image courtesy of the author.
A very cursory googling of “critiquing children’s art” generates a list of boorish sites such as I Am Better Than Your Kids and Art Critiquing the Life Out of Your Kids, such that could only be the work of dumb, desperate adults.

At the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, The Art of Being Green is an exhibition of work by students attending the summer outreach program. Not knowing what was up when I walked in, the first thought in my barely matured brain was that I can’t review a kid’s show.

However, I was immediately taken in, quite literally, by a tall display box with holes to peer through that revealed a tropical glow-in-the-dark world of toucans, frogs, and plants.

An arrangement of 3-D magic accordion art (one side was one image and the other, another), was a study in complementary colors and competing imagery. On the opposite wall was a series of swirling pour paintings, some with jutting table legs. Another project, titled the Laboraboratoire de Musique, displayed French sayings explored by the students during an exercise in recycled music. The words in two songs were replaced with words to represent fraternity and union, and were played on instruments made out of old cans.

Tin can robots, sculptural explorations of self identity, collaged concepts and better weaving than I could do made from self-made looms and tattered jeans. There was more experimentation by these very young artists than most of their grown-up colleagues. There was not a Dystopia or Internet or Sunday Painting in sight. Though these ideas certainly, subconsciously broke through.

These were works made from the struggle of growing up, of learning and being made to do things you don’t necessarily wanna do. Yet they’re also carefree, in the way that all kids’ art is, limited to the universe of signifiers that come with being young, yet unlimited by the formal, often cold obsessive interests that come with age.

Though the show is themed on environmental practice, stewardship of the Earth, and the art and craft of recycling materials into new things, The Art of Being Green also shines a light on the art of immaturity, of being green to the ways of life, ways that often get in the way of learning, and of helping each other grow.