The Apple & The Tree exhibit, showing until May 31 at Practical Art in Phoenix, answers people’s curiosity about how children of creative parents might express themselves. Get ready for the “my kid could have done that” comments because, guess what? They could have. That’s, kind of, the point. People like to target creativity by pinning it on a distant relative or a continuous line of practice throughout the generations. My grandfather was a civic opera singer and set builder, my dad was a bassist in a band and I’m an artist. It’s all naturally chronological, right? But perhaps the reason why creativity or artistic ability is handed down through the family is by simply making it accessible, excusable and important, as the parents in this exhibit have shown.
In their piece Time Travelers, Lara Plecas and her daughter, Olivia embody fun and chance. Their collaboration looks like there was a give and take with Lara keeping her part simple enough that her child could participate on a similar level. Both the intentional and accidental playfulness combine into a piece that you couldn’t say was more the mom or the daughter. It looks like a blend of them playing together in the studio to see what might happen.
Linda and Alexa Pullinsi use different takes on the same subject in separate pieces All the Babies and Cutie Quail, showing a useful part of how kids learn: by mimicking. Aside from subject matter, Alexa picks up on color washing techniques and grounding. They must have shared a color palette, which feels generous and kind considering how particular many artists can be in the studio.
Kristin Bauer and Emmett Potter share their own, individual works with their daughters, Bella and Lilly’s own works. This could be another lesson in raising a child: letting them find their own voice. It’s clear that Bella and Lilly were left to freely create on their own and, most likely over the years, have developed a confidence to believe in their own marks. Since this is something that many artists in college and grad school struggle with, they both have a head start.
It was interesting to see the approach of the different families and how choices were made to teach, let go, direct, incorporate and be influenced by their children. The children in the show have been free to develop this skill like any others that happen at a young age like eating, talking, building, dressing, and cleaning. Art-making or creativity has just been another component incorporated into their lives. Whether they choose to follow in their parent’s footsteps or use the flexibility of creative thinking for anything else they do in life, this process will have an impact. Overall, this show has shared how being involved and engaged with your child can instill respect in them and foster independence, which I’m sure is what all these parents would love for their children to have.