Melting clocks, empty beaches and skyscrapers in a city that never sleeps. Salvador Dalí’s distorted reality and Georgia O’Keeffe with her ways of portraying the city houses reaching for the sky are two artists who were breaking the artrules during the 1900’s.
Modern art is in a way art leaving home. Never before had an artist painted so strangely as Dalí, never before had artists been that interested in urban life. Together with the growing city, technical developments and discoveries in the human mind – artists also invented new ways of making art.
In three manuscripts for three chapter books about art for children I tell the story about artists leaving home.
My aim with the manuscripts is to introduce art for children by telling a story about growing. Petra is a young girl who grows existentially when she discovers art together with her neighbour, the old woman Berta. Petra realises that she too can draw differently and not at all as her classmates when she meets modern art. Petra also understands she needs to use her inner strength to “carry” her friend – in the meaning tell a difficult truth – when she learns about art works that expresses the message from God through Mary: I will carry you always.
My aim with my stories is to give children a chance to establish a relationship with art, with the thoughts and experiences expressed through art, by giving children some knowledge about work of arts.
I have sent the manuscripts to several publishers in Sweden. None is interested. So, is knowledge rubbish when it comes to art?
Well, yes, if you listen to an editor from one of the biggest publishers in Sweden (there are two or three). From the editor I recieved a quote as an answer when I sent my manuscripts. The quote is from a famous writer in Sweden, Lennart Hellsing, who has written a lot of poems and stories for children. He said in the 1960’s, my translation: “Every art that is pedagogical is bad, every good art is pedagogical.” (In swedish: All pedagogisk konst är dålig konst, all god konst är pedagogisk”).
In this case, me sending manuscripts with the aim to be exactly pedagogical – that is trying to teach and to give children a chance to getting to know art – to receive this quote was humiliating.
What did the editor mean? My interpretation is: That you do not need teaching when it comes to art.
Is that true? Of course Not. To get to know works of art you need some knowledge, like in every part of life. If you would like to grow flowers you need to know how to water them. If you would like to run fast, you need to know how to work your arms. If you would like to understand / feel / meet a picture you need to know some about for example why different parts are placed as the are.
But what did the editor mean? Honestly, I think the editor didn´t know what Lennart Hellsing was trying to say.
Lennart Hellsing wanted art to help children in the world. His poems are filled with messages, so yes, his poems are pedagogical per se, for example there are moral statements in his art because he wanted to raise children through his writings. Lennart Hellsing was talking about art per se, not about how to introduce works of art for children.
Further more, the statement about art from Lennart Hellsing is 50 years old. I do believe we have learnt more about art and culture since the 1960’s.
I now have decided to publish my manuscripts on my own.