Buffalo Grove’s Kidtown USA inspires young artists
Kidtown USA preschool teacher Melissa Redmond talks to Long Grove five-year-old Hanna Haghnaji as her twin sister Ava poses with her artwork at the Kidtown USA's art show. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:04AM
BUFFALO GROVE — To ensure kindergarten artwork doesn’t head to the trash, Melissa Redmond puts her students’ creations on her classroom’s walls and ceiling.
Then she put their names next to each project, and hosted an art show to showcase the work for parents.
Redmond, the preschool teacher and art instructor at Kidtown USA, organized the first art fair Feb. 25 at the three-year-old enrichment center, 1425 Busch Parkway.
The evening included the children’s demonstrations of watercolor, acrylic on canvass, oil pastel drawings, collages with tissues, and one ceramic creation.
Q: So how much is a kindergartener capable of, in the realm of art?
A: A kindergartner, and a preschooler, is capable of making art, in every sense of the word. Our hand never goes into what they create. It’s all what they do themselves. Our show was divided into sections — we had a Picasso section, we had a Kandinsky section, we had Monet, we had Georgia O’Keeffe, we had Matisse, and we also had Chihuly, the glass blower.
Q: The kids were blowing glass?
A: We showed them a video of how glass was blown. There were two Chihuly projects — one was plastic cups, which we colored with Sharpies in different colors, and then we melted in a toaster oven, so they took on some glass characteristics. The second was coffee filters, which we colored, then we sprayed them with starch, and then we hung them from the ceiling.
Q: In your world, a Sharpie is used as a medium for expression?
A: It lends itself well to graphic work, to work that requires permanence. With the students, I don’t use the Sharpies too much, just because of the smell.
Q: So how did the show go?
A: It went well. We had a lot of parents come out, and they were really appreciative. A lot of times, the projects will go home, and then, who knows what happens. It was so exciting that they could show it off, and it was hanging there, and their name was next to it. It was a really big deal for them.
Q: Do you get surprised by what kids are capable of?
A: Absolutely. If the structure is there, and the support, a child is perfectly capable. The kids surprise me all the time. Sometimes a child will be frustrated, like ‘I’m done with this, I don’t want to do this anymore.’ We’ll talk about where they’re at and what they don’t like about it.
Q: Where did the idea for the show come from?
A: We were having two weeks of art-making. I really wanted to emphasize that what they were doing was important, it wasn’t something they should, you know, just shove in their bag. That’s what inspired me to do the art show.
Q: What do you want them to leave Kidtown with?
A: The sense that they are an artist, and that anything they want to create is 100 percent perfect and wonderful. And anything they want to create, they can have the confidence to do so.