At the beginning of the academic year I decided to introduce architecture to my son. There is no curriculum for this at his age (seven) nor should there be but in a city like Chicago it seemed just wrong not to especially considering the two great resources the city placed at my feet:
Throw in some MineCraft, yup MineCraft, and you have a wonderful introduction to architecture.
We started with the David Adjeye Exhibit at the AIC, I decided to be brave and take him to the opening night special event, there was a really expensive one I'm not talking about that one, we attended a free event, which was fancier than I expected. There was a talk in a large auditorium followed by a fancy reception where participants could view the exhibit.
I loved every second. We got to ask David what he was doing at seven. He said traveling A LOT, which disappointment me a little. I can't afford to travel oversees the way he did and still does. Before I walked out I set my mind to doing everything I CAN do and not focus on what I can't. Thanks to the city I live in, I can do a lot.
My son was one of three (I only saw two others) kids among hundreds of adults at the reception and held his own wearing a bright red dashiki we bought in NY and drinking sparkling water. We wandered into the exhibit full of models, sketches, and images for David himself. He tried to touch a model and got in trouble with the guard who gave me a very dirty look. I laughed. I couldn't help it. I should not have laughed but I did. I wanted to say, "He's a kinesthetic learner." but all that came out was a laugh.
We browsed while I planted: David was once small and brown and full of wonder like you. Now he is taller, stronger and still full of wonder. People come to see him and this work. He loved something and he went for it.
Note: David deflected a discussion the significance of his race in his art. I am not sure he would appreciate me saying this to my son and may point out that he had a much different experiences as a child and those differences are more significant than the similarities of gender and race in a stern dignified English accent. At least that is the impression he left on me. The David in my daydream would be right, there are significant differences in their experiences but so what? In this moment representation is important. How many black architects do you know? How many make history books, how often do you get to see one honored? Exactly. So I told my small brown boy to consider what the possibility are for who he may become and his eyes twinkled.
We met David at the reception and took a picture with him. He bent down and encouraged my small brown boy to pose how he wanted "Don't be afraid, your the boss." He put one thumb up the same way he did when he met IronMan in NYC when he was four.
As we left I felt a little hand grab mine, Chicago twinkling in front of us, "One day maybe people will come see what I did really well." He wondered aloud more question than statement.
A few months later, a visit to the Chicago Architecture Foundation. They have wonderful events and workshops for kids and families. We went with a homeschooling group. The kids learned about skyscrapers as a modern technology, how they are built and used lego to construct their own models. They looked at art and poems about skyscrapers and talked about how people represent things differently. I think this was a great way to instill some artistic confidence. He enjoyed the event so much, he asked if he can go to there camp in the summer. When we left we decided to hunt for a sky scrapper under construction to discuss what he learned.
MineCraft creative mode has been a huge hit for discussing architecture and letting him try his hand at it. I did not download the app with this in mind. I had no idea what to expect when I downloaded the app but to my surprise he gravitated to creative mode and ALWAYS builds a house, exploring different compositions. Recently, we went to a Art lab at the children museum and he drew a beautiful house.
I think this introduction to architecture has be wonderful we are both really enjoying it. I hope I will be able take him to see the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History this year. Fingers crossed!