Friday, February 03, 2006

Art there child art prodigies?

The conventional wisdom is that there are child prodigies in music, but not art. This is posited by experts who believe the visual aspects of art always reveal immaturity, that only life experience can truly inform the visual arts, no matter how talented the child may be. Until I came across the following website, I had no opinion on the subject. In fact, I hadn't thought about it. After all, all children create art and a lot of it is precious, if not precocious. It is fun to view and interesting to interpret. That it reflects a child-like view and experience is to be expected. After all, this is the art of children. Apparently, there have been very few children who express themselves visually with sufficient depth and emotion to impress the art critics.

That may have to change, if you examine the work of the 11-year-old Akiane. Here's her website: http://www.artakiane.com/home.htm The images are certainly impressive and many of them are not images one would connect with a child's world view. Take a look at the portraits. She may not have the life experience of her subjects, but she is definitely reflecting their life experience in her paintings. Not good enough, say many art analysts. They caution that only time will tell. This is undoubtedly true. I would expect her skills and her visual maturity to increase with age, education and experience. There's no telling what her chosen style will be. Right now, it is clearly realistic, but who is to say she won't find her muse in abstraction or the invention of a new means of artistic expression?

The critics point out that her website is designed to sell her work. Duh? What artist does not desire the validation of someone wanting to own their art? From what I can see, her paintings are superior from a skill standpoint than many works I've seen for sale on the Internet or at local art shows. Besides, beauty and value are definitely in the eye of the beholder. If the charm of having been created by an 11-year-old is part of the purchase decision, well, so be it.

Akiane is also a writer--poetry to be precise. Her appearances on Oprah's show have included readings and conversations about her motivations. Her poetry has a strong spiritual tone. She clearly views her skills as blessings in a religious context. Whether this is her own interpretation or a reflection of a religious home, it is hard to tell. But, one thing is certain, she deflects compliments with statements to the effect that God intends her to help people through her abilities. Whether you are religious or not, this is a refreshing attitude. I can't help but think that a young girl with a talent for popular music would have a hard time avoiding a "diva" attitude. Come to think of it, a plain old 11-year-old attitude can be pretty hard to take at times!

So, my assessment is Akiane is the real deal, a child art prodigy with skills that will only sharpen and mature as she gains years and experiences. As an amateur artist myself, I can't help feeling a bit of envy!

The Stickler

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