Not Just For Grown-Ups: Comments from our Collections Manager

Not Just For Grown-Ups: Comments from our Collections Manager

Mariko Ando's Never Nest, fantastical image of rabbit sitting in the branches of a tree.

Our aspiration for the Not Just for Grown Ups online exhibition was to select a group of works from our collection that speak to the imagination of children, and to the child-like imagination within many of us “grown ups”. Many of these pieces tell stories and create images the way a child would. Mariko Ando’s Never Nest shows a snapshot of a rabbit’s journey to the nest in the trees while Lockwood Dennis’s Dump Truck uses large fields of color to create eccentric shadows. Artists are storytellers and creators that often work outside of the restrictions that many of us have grown accustomed to. The artists in this exhibition seek to share unique stories, and it is the goal of our collectors to take these stories into our homes just as we share bedtime stories with children. 

We also considered the spaces that we create for ourselves, our children and our loved ones. We want to surround our loved ones in a peaceful atmosphere where our minds can rest easy. Marit Berg’s Sleeping Fox and Kouki Tsuritani’s Rocking Sheep can comfort our families, whether they’re drifting to sleep or awake and counting sheep. When we are collecting with others in mind, it can change our whole approach to art and open our eyes to other styles of works. In the words of my fellow staff member, Emma, “As a collector, I have a whole category of works that I fell in love with and plan to acquire simply because I want to one day put them in my child’s room and create a sweet, imaginative world for them.”

“As a collector, I have a whole category of works that I fell in love with and plan to acquire simply because I want to one day put them in my child’s room and create a sweet, imaginative world for them.”

I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the voices and messages that we want to keep close to ourselves, and especially to our young ones. In that vein, I especially appreciate Deer and Butterfly by Potawatomi artist Woody Crumbo and Look at the Birds in the Sky! by Chul Soo Lee, which shows not birds but planes and weapons, asking us to consider what kind of world we want to leave for future generations.

Andy Farkas, They Would Survive. Colorful image of raccoon in stream holding an egg.

The storytelling that takes place in these works also relates to the history of passing down stories and memories. Stories, like artwork, can be shared and passed from generation to generation. Conversations around art can begin any age and grant children access to the art world. And anyone can begin to begin to teach others the importance of art for ourselves and our world. The legacy of collecting can be passed from parents, grandparents, and caretakers of all kinds. Andy Farkas’s They Would Survive is accessible on multiple levels – the image of the racoon cradling the egg makes sense to young ones, and the gold handset type elaborates for the adults: “Ultimately they would survive by his sincerity – They would prosper by his care.” Azumi Takeda’s Piggyback shows another universal form of care, bringing someone along with you and supporting them on your back.

Each piece in this exhibition tells a story and gives us the opportunity to tell our own. The artworks we surround ourselves with can also be our legacies and shared traditions.

View Not Just For Grown-Ups.

Collections Manager Paige McCray

Headshot of Collections Manager Paige McCray