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NPR Arts & Life

Pop Up Exhibit Shows Off Childhood Art Of Contemporary Artists

The childhood work of Peter Shelton, as well as other Los Angeles area artists, is on display at the ProjectArt <em>My Kid Could Do That</em> exhibition.
The childhood work of Peter Shelton, as well as other Los Angeles area artists, is on display at the ProjectArt <em>My Kid Could Do That</em> exhibition.

If you've ever wondered through an art museum, you've probably seen an artwork at least once that made you think: "My kid could do that."

People in the art world hear it all the time. In fact, that was the inspiration behind the new pop up exhibit running this weekend at the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. The show is called My Kid Could Do That, but it's not stealing any work from refrigerators.

Artist Pae White's early sculptures and paintings are among the collection of childhood artworks at the <em>My Kid Could Do That</em> exhibit at The Underground Museum in Los Angeles.
/ Courtesy of ProjectArt
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Artist Pae White's early sculptures and paintings are among the collection of childhood artworks at the <em>My Kid Could Do That</em> exhibit at The Underground Museum in Los Angeles.

Hosted by the youth art education organization ProjectArt, the exhibit showcases the work of well-known contemporary artists from when they were children. It features the work of renowned and emerging California artists like Doug Aitken, Lita Albuquerque and Charles Arnoldi, in the styles of pencil scribbles, crayons on paper and papier-mâché puppets.

"We have works from ages 4 to 17, so obviously with the work that are from the teenage years, you know, there's more refinement there and so it's easier to see that these kids had something," says ProjectArt Benefit Chair Kyle DeWoody. "But, some artists who are more conceptual artists maybe didn't have a field hand and so they just were making interesting things, but you can kind of see a seed of the work they're doing today and what they were playing with at age 9, 10, 11."

The artworks in the exhibit reflect not only the age of the artists, but the journey each artist took toward their art career.

Painter Keith Mayerson is among the 73 artists featured in the My Kid Could Do That exhibition hosted by ProjectArt.
/ Courtesy of Project Art
/
Painter Keith Mayerson is among the 73 artists featured in the My Kid Could Do That exhibition hosted by ProjectArt.

"There's a lot of parents who think everything their kid does is amazing and they save everything. There's some artists here who thought they weren't good and stopped making art for some years and then came back to it on a more conceptual level in college or grad school," DeWoody says.

Proceeds from the show will benefit ProjectArt in its mission to promote arts education in underserved communities across the United States.

"The main thing is about realizing that if these artists didn't have the opportunity to create this work — to have creative expression encouraged in art classes, to have access to materials, and to kind of see if they had any skill — that we wouldn't have these incredible artists making work today," DeWoody says.

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