… I had no particular religious upbringing as a child. The child-rearing trends of the 70’s left much to be desired. The one practiced in my home was the belief that children should not be forced into their parent’s religion but to
wander aimlessly in a spiritual wasteland until Hell gobbles them whole experience all the world has to offer then pick a system of beliefs that works for them. Bosh.
At least I had art. I lived in the Chrysler Museum as a child, mostly because our apartment didn’t have air-conditioning. I remember being maybe seven or eight and standing in front a painting of the Final Judgement. I was dwarfed by the wall sized painting and at eye level with Hell. It started then, at that moment, when I realized God was real and Hell was a very scary place.
This picture is of my son at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh doing the same thing I did three decades ago; contemplating Hell. The imagery is powerful wouldn’t you agree? It conveys a powerful truth about good and evil and the repercussions of sin. I can understand why liberal modern artists would want to keep art students from studying realist and classical art. Because the above image has the power to convert souls where the latter corrupts. I dare say it scares the hell out of them. You can image my surprise decades later to read the very same type of painting, of a Final Judgement, was the same that converted Peter Hitchens.
Art is so very powerful and for that reason it is all the more important to be taught to children, even at the youngest age. No, not arts and crafts. I abhor arts and crafts. Children are capable of understanding and appreciating art – real art. So please put away the pipe cleaners and glue gun, especially if you have boys. If you want to kill the arts for boys make them do arts and crafts. This I can not stress enough.
No, I’m talking about real lessons in art. Our Catholic faith is rich with imagery and symbolism. Teach children at a young age to decode their meanings and art will come alive for them. Kids are bored in museums because they don’t know what it is they’re seeing. If they can not make a relevant connection it holds no importance in the mind of a child. Teach children about the saints and their lives so when they walk into the halls of museum or church they will be greeted with familiar faces. Teach them allegories of vice and virtue, as these were common themes of Renaissance art. A basic knowledge of mythology will also help young eyes decipher the works art surrounding them. Depending on the age, you can teach them about various techniques used by the masters and begin teaching them classical drawing.
With understanding comes appreciation, with appreciation comes admiration and finally a love for art and beauty.