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To Keep or to Cast-Off: What To Do With Your Child's Art?

Friday, June 27, 2014 - 04:00 AM

WNYC

As the school year wound to a close, students across New York City dutifully toted home folders, boxes and bags of the art and other projects they made. And that brings us to the critical question, especially for space-starved New Yorkers: what to keep and what to trash? 

“Students would say to me I don’t want to bring it home. My mom’s going to discard it because I don’t have any space,” said Julia Chan, an art teacher at P.S. 130 in Manhattan. “I would really encourage students to take a photo so they have that memory.”

Chan said that keeping a snapshot of how a child’s artwork evolves is critical for the child’s ability to understand their own growth.

 “Usually as they get older as artists they become more inhibited, their art changes,” she said. “They can actually see the changes if they were to photograph their work."

And of course there’s an app for that. Actually there are a handful of apps that allow you to take a picture of your child’s artwork, catalogue and share it via social media. Artkive, and Art My Kid Made  are two popular options.

 But skeptics like Mario Asaro, who’s taught middle school art for nearly 30 years and now has two young kids of his own, insisted parents should make the effort to hold onto physical copies of their children’s work.

 “In the digital age, I’m always afraid that we’re always one crash away from losing all our memories,” he said.

 He suggested labeling artwork with the child’s name, date and grade so you can keep track how the work changes over time. The archive of artwork then becomes a sort of “a time capsule of your development,” he said.

 But even Asaro admitted he doesn’t keep everything.

 “Especially in pre-k and first and second grade they bring home so many things,” he said. “I [keep] things that speak to me, that kind of are unique that have a little bit more, that are not so cookie-cutter but more unique to the child,” he said. “I save maybe at that age 10 or 20 percent.”

What about you? What's your strategy for preserving your child's artistic output? Share your ideas with us.

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Comments [3]

Kaena Clark from New York, NY

As an Art Therapist, Mommy, and native New Yorker living in a small apartment I have 2 places for my children's beloved artwork - a display space and a storage space (granted, my huge, plastic storage bins may be a bit large!). I always remind parents of very young, pre-school age children that their little ones are often not connected to their art products at all - all of the joy and discovery occured in the process. So, keep what you are attached to and save room for when your school aged children start bringing home "products" they want to keep! Involve your children in their display or gallery space and move pieces out as new pieces come in. Always remind your kids that some artwork needs to be "retired" so there is space for their new masterpieces. I think the apps and photo books are cool but I'm an old fashioned kind of gal - nothing like holding an original in your hands and feeling the stroke of a little artist. For some more display ideas and some simple, unique ways to create with your kids this summer please visit The Creator's Workshop at www.facebook.com/TheCreatorsWorkshop
Keep up the great work!
My Best,
Kaena L. Clark, MPS, ATR

Jun. 30 2014 08:19 PM
Liz Mozer from Huntington, Long Island, NY

As soon as my daughter, Annalise, started brining home her "masterpieces" @ around age 2, I knew we'd have a problem! (I'm a big saver.) When faced with the mounting piles of her artwork, I decided to create a neat & presentable way to preserve & display her precious pieces. Being a graphic artist myself, I designed a poster onto which I scanned & arranged my favorite of Annalise's work, & from that, my new cottage business was born. I called my product "Swee'Pea Museum-Quality Posters©," & began to market the idea first around Long Island. So many other parents were faced with the same dilemma, so my idea really took-off & a real business was born out of this universal need: Taking our kids' artwork off of the refrigerator door, & putting it into a format that could be proudly framed & displayed on any home or office wall. I wound-up getting a lot of press - & even some television coverage - & my "Swee'Pea Posters©" were a big hit for a while. (That is, until digital printing & photo sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc. started becoming more popular & were offering much less-expensive alternatives.) It was a great idea, & a terrific way to solve the problem of how to display parents' favorites of their children's art collections. Annalise is now 16, & her "Swee'Pea Posters©" still proudly hang in our home!

I am currently in the process of renewing the domain for the "Swee'Pea Posters©" website, but for now - I can offer you this link from my online portfolio website, (http://lizmozerportfolio.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=13097026), at which you can read about the success of my children's' artwork business. And of course - when my site is back up & running, I'll be more than happy to send you the website information. For now though, if anyone is interested in having a "Swee'Pea Museum-Quality Poster©" designed by me, I can be reached at: lizmozer22@gmail.com. Thanks for posing this question, which is near & dear to my heart!

Most Sincerely -

Liz Mozer

Jun. 30 2014 07:07 PM
Richard Spiegel from Staten Island

From 1979 through 2008, Ten Penny Players <http://www.tenpennyplayrs.org> published student writing and visual art in individual and group chapbooks. We made early use of computers in classrooms, so most of the student work was also digitized and has remained in our archives. The paper products, using acid free paper, have lasted for decades. We continue to get requests from students for copies of their work from our archives, which we supply to the students at no cost to them.

Jun. 27 2014 10:33 AM

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