The works in “My Kid Could Do That” might not be formally airtight, to say the least, but they’re enlightening—occasionally shocking, often amusing—signposts on the way to these artists’ later fame. They’re also a reminder of the liberating potentials of childhood creativity, even if it doesn’t translate into a career.
“We’re about putting kids on a path to success, and art is part of that,” Alphons says. “Ultimately, kids can be anything they want—a doctor, an accountant, an engineer—but giving them a creative toolkit hardwires them, at a very young age, to think innovatively.”
Artist Sanford Biggers concurs. (A painting of his grandfather, made when Biggers was 16, is included in the exhibition.) “Arts education is more than just learning the skills to produce art,” he says. “It’s thinking outside of the box, creative problem-solving, and improvisation. It increases visual and historical literacy—qualities that can positively affect any field.”
“There was so much I couldn’t do,” Simmons says, thinking back on the demands of her early school days. “It’s so important for children to be able to express themselves, to feel empowered. To feel like they can use their intuition, rather than memorization, or working with numbers, which might not come naturally.”
The importance of “giving a kid a quiet space to draw, and think, and make” should never be underestimated, Simmons adds. “In the end, there is no right and wrong answer,” she says. “Imagine that! It’s amazing freedom.”