Monday, May 16, 2011

Young artists and occupational therapy

This is Megan.  I wrote another post about her here when she wove this watermelon tapestry last summer.  Megan is now 11 years old (and definitely smarter than me if you go by IQ scores) and I'm hoping she is going to come here again this summer to weave another tapestry.  (Oh wait, that last part might just be my goal not hers.)

I work in a rural New Mexico school system, and as I wrote on that post last summer about Megan, I was hoping to do some weaving with the kids this year.  I was not able to pull together a tapestry weaving project due to my heavy caseload, but I did pull out an inkle loom and interested a few kids in weaving inkle bands.  Some kids who tried this had a great deal of difficulty sequencing raising and lowering the warp, putting the shuttle through in the correct direction, and then beating before going the other way.  I found that it was a great exercise in so many ways: fine motor skills, visual-perception, cognition, attention, self-regulation...  a great task for an occupational therapy session.  I think my older kids could handle a small tapestry or something on the cardboard looms in Sarah Swett's book Kid's Weaving.  Hopefully next year.
This child did the best of any child who tried it, but she is also the one who doesn't qualify for OT!

This is another amazing young lady I had the privilege of meeting last weekend (see blog post here).  Railynn is a natural artist who jumped right into our art journaling retreat.  Quite frankly, some of her work looked much better than mine.  I think that is thanks to lack of inhibition and no fear of failure.  I think most adults should take a page from the kids book of life... especially artists.

This is an art piece I saw hanging in the elementary grade 3-5 hall last year sometime.  I was never able to find out who the artist was, but it is one of my favorite pieces of art ever.  I want to weave it just like this, but fear that plagiarizing a 10 year old is probably not going to increase my karma any.

Kids are amazing (and I don't have any of my own, so maybe that is partly why I feel that way).  They will often tell you their bottom line without any prompting--oh how I wish sometimes adults would do that.  When it comes to being an artist, children have no inhibitions (until we implant them) and they believe in what they can do.  My preschool, kindergarten, and first graders have great opinions of their abilities as artists.  It is when I start asking 4th and 5th graders that I hear how they are "bad at art" or "can't draw".  I think the world would be a better place if we never taught children things like that.  If every kid graduated from high school thinking they were creative or artistic in some way, we would have given them the greatest gift possible.


  1. Hi Rebecca,
    As a retired pediatric physical therapist and dedicated weaver, it is refreshing to read an OT that doesn't eschew the value of weaving in OT. Many of my OT friends would groan when they learned I had 3 looms at home...and used them.

    So true about what we feed to children about art. I remember giving up on the practice of art in 4th grade when I could not draw a nose for the assigned self portrait project.

    Thank heavens my ingrained love of fiber has pulled me through to once again honoring my inner artist many decades later.

    You must be a wonderful OT and you are definitely a wonderful tapestry artist....Twice blessed!

  2. HURRAH! What a fantastic post, Rebecca!!!

    I was told by my high school art teacher that I would never be an artist because I had taught myself to draw by copying pictures.

    Please don't tell my condor...


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