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Talented Children

DATES December 10, 1943 through January 23, 1944
ORGANIZING DEPARTMENT Education
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  • December 10, 1943 Paintings, drawings, watercolors and pen-and-ink work by students from ten to sixteen years of age will be on exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum from December 10th through January 23rd. These pictures represent the work done in the Museum’s Art Classes for Talented Children, meeting every Saturday throughout the school year.

    It is self-disciplined, serious work, far removed from the general impression of “child art.” The students in the class are selected by a test given in the Education Department of the Museum. The sole entrance requirement is talent. The exhibition is proof of the great wealth of talent in these young painters. With courage, imagination and vision they paint their daily lives, their dreams and their memories.

    Augustus Peck, an artist who had worked with children at the Cleveland Museum, conceived the school. A few years ago he brought it to very active life in New York City. Long-sighted friends, notably Mrs. Juliana Force, Mr. John Gates and the late Miss Elisabeth Irwin, backed Mr. Peck in his project. He started in a classroom rented from The Little Red Schoolhouse in Greenwich Village. The first pupils came from the blue. A couple of sticks in local newspapers, a letter to the School Art League, one child telling another filled the classes to capacity with an immediate waiting list. Mrs. Force arranged an exhibition of the children’s work at the Whitney Museum the next year. As the demands of war relief and war interests made it harder each year to run the school on subsidized money, its fate hung in the balance. Meanwhile, the Education Department of the Brooklyn Museum, interested in the school from the start, saw the Whitney Museum exhibition and arranged to take over the classes. Mr. Peck was going in the army, and since Miss Ann Brewer had been working with him in the New York School, she was put in charge and the classes were moved to the Brooklyn Museum in the fall of 1942.

    The majority of the students are Saturday’s children who work for a living. They all go to school, all are up to their necks in homework at night, and most of them are expected to swell the family purse with money earned in after-school jobs. Somehow they manage to sandwich hours into these elastic days for painting and drawing. Most of the students are too young to make any definite future plans. Many, however, have already determined to be painters no matter how hard a row they have to hoe to reach their goal. One thirteen year old girl is working enthusiastically at her painting, building a background for the architectural career she hopes to follow. Others are concentrating on portraiture, or decorative compositions which later may be turned to use in industrial art. It is of little consequence whether or not any of the children devote their lives to painting. In awarding scholarships and supplying the students with materials and guidance, the Museum hopes to help the children enrich their own lives. As lawyers, teachers, shoe clerks or plumbers, their painting will be an endless source of delight.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1942 - 1946. 10-12/1943, 136-7.
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