Working Big is a remarkable book about large-scale art projects for kids. Written in 1975, it is long out-of-print, but available these days as a free, downloadable pdf from Public Collectors. It gives an expansive view (with how-to’s) of discovery projects to do with your own kids, or fantasize about for your (grown-up) self.
Working Big’s essential premise is that kids and artists often take similar approaches in exploring and working with their environment. Its chapter titles – “Kids’ Space Equals Artists’ Space” and “The Artist Shapes as the Child Shapes” – should be printed on tee shirts, or scrawled on walls. Pictures of kids working away with obvious pleasure are interspersed with images of works by notable artists, like Robert Smithson‘s earthworks, The Broken Circle and Amarillo Ramp. This inspiring book holds a lot of wisdom about kids AND the creative process in general:
“When nature itself provides the medium, children are eager and intuitive artists. They need no one to tell them that the moist grittiness of sand is just right for sculpturing or that damp snow can be squeezed into the most satisfying shapes. A pile of paving blocks immediately triggers construction ideas; discarded tires, an event…”
…Their enthusiasm for working big outdoors and their facility with whatever materials are at hand point out yet another example of how children on their own delight in ordering space in ways not dissimilar to those favored by many contemporary artists.”
The book will guide you through Air Art (air tunnels, cushions, whips, and hot-balloons); Building Big with Cardboard…and Lights…and Working Walls (relief sculptures, murals, hand-rolled paper reliefs and 3-D stencils) to name a few…By understanding the basic logic of each project, kids can improvise and apply their own vision…
Working Big just might change your view of what a kid is capable of, and set your own imagination soaring…
…As a grown-up of certain age, I think the quote, above, is much more thrilling if you change “children” to “we”:
“When nature itself provides the medium, children WE are eager and intuitive artists. They WE need no one to tell them US that the moist grittiness of sand is just right for sculpturing…”