My six year old daughter goes to an excellent public school, but like most public schools, its resources are limited. I supplement my daughter’s education with art classes, music, and sports outside of school. She goes to art class at a place called 4Cats every week, and she loves it. I love it too. Every season’s session 4Cats picks one or two artists. The children study all about the artist, her life, and her work. Simultaneously, they create a painting in that artist’s style. Since starting 4Cats, my daughter has studied Leonardo Da Vinci, Monet, Vermeer, Lichtenstein, and Frida Kahlo. I asked her who her favorite is, so far. Her answer: Frida Kahlo, and then she asked me, “Why is there only one girl?”
Here’s Alice’s Frida Kahlo.
I was thinking that it’s great my daughter is getting exposure to art, but also how, and this reminds me of the post I just wrote on boarding school, the more “educated” we get, the more we can “learn” to internalize sexism. Before 4Cats, my daughter had no idea there were many more male artists than female artists. Now she knows. Will that limit how she evaluates her own potential? Her dreams? Her aspirations? Of course, I tell her she can be anything she wants to be. But words are just words. Showing a kid something, modeling it for her, is much more effective. That’s how kids really learn, and grown-ups for that matter. My words contradict what my daughter sees.
My temporary solution? Art class is today, and I’m going to ask 4Cats if they’ll consider featuring more female artists in the curriculum.
Update I spoke with my daughter’s teacher who is wonderful with these kids. She told me that in the 4Cats curriculum, there are only two female artists. 4Cats studios are all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Each franchise (the one we go to is in San Francisco) can select who they want use out of that established curriculum. The curriculum includes books for kids on the artist, apps, and games, along with other related activities. Alice’s teacher said that the 4Cats curriculum reflects who the important artists are and that’s why there are mostly males taught. I suggested a few females– Mary Cassatt, Artemisia Gentileshi, and Georgia O’Keefe. I love Kara Walker’s silhouettes, and I bet the kids would have so much fun making those.
The teacher told me she’d forward this blog to whoever is in charge of curriculum. So if this blog, gets to you, we love learning about art. Half of the kid population– and most likely, at least half of your students– are female. It would be great if 4Cats made an effort to educate and inspire kids by teaching them about female artists.