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Young Mind at Clyfford Still

New exhibit highlights young minds at Clyfford Still, Art

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This one’s for the kids!

Let’s face it: unless you’re at a children’s museum, most art is not created with kids in mind. Well, this new upcoming exhibit hopes to change that. 

Co-curated with children from six months old to age eight from across the Front Range, the upcoming exhibition Clyfford Still, Art, and the Young Mind, reveals how children think about art. Designed to engage both children and adults, the exhibition will be on view from March 11 to August 7 at the Clyfford Still Museum (CSM).

What is Young Mind?

The Museum’s first four galleries chart the artistic journey of Clyfford Still in a chronological narrative, and includes artworks selected with families and children in mind and hung lower on the walls to account for the height of young visitors. The remaining galleries feature Clyfford Still, Art, and the Young Mind, the first show CSM curated in collaboration with the community.

Using existing research about what kinds of art children like at different points in their development, co-curators Bailey H. Placzek and Nicole Cromartie organized the exhibition into five gallery themes: high contrast, scale, pattern, the world around us, and color. Then, they asked local children to select and arrange their favorite artworks, share their perspectives for the gallery and audio content, and help to design interactive activities. The Young Mind exhibition includes various interactive and interpretive elements, including

  • A behind-the-scenes video with clips of the infant co-curators selecting paintings for the exhibition by staring, pointing, vocalizing, and grabbing reproductions of their favorite Still paintings.
  • Pre-kindergarten students helped create anone of the galleries and inspired an installation of prisms on one of the outdoor terraces.
  • Young co-curators also assisted in developing audio and video experiences in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
  • Second-grade students from two schools selected and arranged archival images of automobiles and airplanes from the Clyfford Still Archives for “The World Around Us” gallery.

While many examples of museums creating exhibitions for children exist, Cromartie and Placzek had a challenging time finding any examples of museums working with very young children and pre-verbal children to develop exhibitions. “This show is groundbreaking in our field,” said Placzek. “We realized that including children in all aspects of exhibition development including design, interpretation, programming, marketing, and evaluation, would make for a richer exhibition and learning experience for everyone involved in the project.”

“If the Museum is a welcoming environment for children and their grown-ups, it will be a more welcoming place for everyone,” said Placzek. “When we first started talking about this exhibition, we were very aware of the fact that this couldn’t just be an exhibition for very young kids. So many of the exhibition’s foundational themes are multi-disciplinary and will interest people of all ages.”

Cromartie and Placzek said that the exhibition’s nearly three-year development process during pandemic times renewed their appreciation for the joy that the simple act of looking at art instills in their everyday lives. They hope visitors will feel the same way.

Visit https://clyffordstillmuseum.org/youngminds for more information. The Museum will offer a variety of programs and events during the run of the exhibition that are free or free with admission.

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