Chapter 20

Handprint Turkeys and the Cotton Ball Snowman: Is There Hope for an Artful America?

By Bridget Matros

ABSTRACT: In this chapter the author takes a critical look at what’s going on amidst the pom-poms and glitter glue of pre-school arts and crafts and points to implications for individuals and the arts at large. Drawing on experience as a children’s museum visual arts educator, the author cites problematic practices and beliefs held by arts-phobic parents and teachers and provides practical examples of what can be done to nurture creativity during the often overlooked and undervalued period of early learning. Ultimately, the author argues that educating and empowering parents, caretakers, and teachers to support creative development during early childhood is an essential strategy to impact more children with a wider set of benefits than arts programs alone provide. She contends that this early intervention would additionally prime learners for arts enrichment in later years—ensuring fertile grounds for a generation that grows up fluent in, comfortable with, and expectant of the arts in all forms in their communities.

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