A couple years ago, I was at an event in Bread and Yoga studio in the Inwood neighborhood of upper Manhattan, and I was captivated by the artwork on the walls. Incredibly, it was all done by kids, students of Scribble Art Workshop founded by a phenomenal art educator who happens to be my daughter’s art teacher, Sasha Schwartz.
I recently met with Sasha to hear about the latest from Scribble Art Workshop, including their upcoming show. Scribble Art Workshop has locations in Inwood, Washington Heights, Riverdale, and Tenafly, NJ, and scribblers range from 18 months old to 13 years old. From the moment kids walk in the door, they’re treated as artist. All kids participate in shows where their art is framed and hung in gallery settings with their names and titles posted next to it. 10-year-olds get to work the shows as docents and art dealers, and pieces that are sold get a little red dot on the tag. Parents are encouraged not to buy the work of their own kid but rather art for art’s sake. As a parent I found it really difficult to not immediately buy Olive’s art, but then I truly fell in love with a drawing by another child and it gave me great joy to buy it. It was also great to hand Olive $20 and tell her to buy any piece she loved. Both works of art now hang in the kids’ room.
The next Scribble Art Workshop show opens this Saturday. Called “Methods,” the show reveals the artistic process through the product. Think of the action painting of Jackson Pollack where his method of dripping and throwing paint is evident on the canvas. Even toddlers can get in on this action. They made paintings using rice, and on display will not only be the paintings but the rice used to make it. Preschoolers made their own brushes which will be on display with the abstract paintings made with them. Work by older kids will include films showing the evolution of sculptures and photographic portraits of puppet creations.
The Method I like best of all is Sasha’s teaching style, so respectful of each young artist’s expression. Sasha enthusiastically brings kids to inspirational spaces and gives them supplies and direction, and then the art happens. I remembered seeing a picture on Facebook of some of the toddlers covering themselves in paint. Asking if she got any pushback from parents about that she expressed the children’s physical need to experiment, “Do I stop the drive or do I give into the drive? It’s a way for them to explore the world through their body. As an educator I have to allow this, and to not let them do it is a travesty.” I love that. I’m always happy when the kids come home dirty and covered in colors—the sign of a day well spent.
Sasha reminded me of this marvelous TED talk by Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud, specifically calling out this quote, “It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen.” Scribble Art Workshop shares that philosphy.
Check out the classes for your kids, and buy some beautiful artwork at Methods, which opens this Saturday, June 15 from 4:00-7:00 pm at Apt. 78, 4447 Broadway. All sales go towards making classes available to kids who can’t afford them. Find more details on the Scribble Art Workshop Facebook page where you can also see gorgeous examples of the student work.