Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Intergalactic Encounters: Desire and the Political Immediacy of Children's Drawing

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Intergalactic Encounters: Desire and the Political Immediacy of Children's Drawing

Article excerpt

"The questioning, then, of why Carter and Lilly draw as they do has sought to engage with and analytically exhume the various tensions and forces that move this drawing into a state of perpetual otherness."

Saturday Morning

Eight feet of short, frazzled carpet is all that separated their work on this day: Carter (age 6) at one end of the rug and Lilly (age 5) at the other. Carter's and Lilly's drawing was often the subject of interest and speculation at Saturday Art School, especially for the undergraduate students charged with teaching the classes, and also forthe otherteaching assistants and myself. On these mornings, we curiously discussed and debated the merits and pitfalls of what would happen if Carterand Lilly were to find each other through drawing. We contemplated how and why this encounter would unfold and the extent to which their coming together might engender something unexpected in the way of practice- forthem and for us. We wondered if and how we might be moved to ask questions differently if Carter and Lilly were to work together, and we questioned whether or not we would see and hear things that sound and look different from what we had once imagined. The hypothetical ventures that we shared on these Saturday mornings sprawled out over the course of our 3 years together, sweeping up subtle variations of intrigue along the way.

On this particular Saturday morning, Carter was assembling a planetary civilization of Banana Agents (see Figure 1), and I was attempting to listen my way into the complexities of their citizenship. At the other end of the carpet, Lilly was expressing her concern for the recent quarrels that had occurred between the Gs and Gourd Brothers (see Figure 2); and Karen, a longtime drawing companion and teaching assistant with Saturday Art School, listened attentively in order to help negotiate the tensions that had recently arisen. As the sole occupants of a distant fruit galaxy, the Banana Agents were a calculated construction of color-coded galactic fighters, whose dark-turquoise leader donned a pair of purple glasses that enabled an optical storm of destruction (see Figure 3). What is more, the Banana Agents'greatest strength was a derivative of their planet's oxygenation qualities and the distribution tanks that were customized for the changing requirements of their breathing desires. The Banana Oxygen Generation (BOG) tank produced equal measures of oxygen for any quantity that was consumed, and had the capacity to move seamlessly from galaxy to galaxy and planet to planet-reorienting the breathable settings and codes to match the levels required of the agents' relentless superfighting needs and, of course, the territorial demands that were presented. The Banana Agents were no longer a matter of speculation but, rather, an unavoidable force to be reckoned with; it was simply a matter of time before their warrior tactics were called forth.

It seemed, then, that the narrative elements of the agents' planet and pursuits were in place, the intricacies of agent law had been established, and the inevitable certainty of an unprecedented warrior nation was on the rise.... But there was something lurking nearby, something that stood to challenge the durability of the Banana Agents' tactical prowess, and Carter's theoretical dexterity as well. It was the turbulent relations of the Gs and Gourd Brothers, a conflictive narrative that Lilly had been wrestling with all morning, a narrative that crept into the air around us, glided over the surface of the images and ideas that had been produced, and squirmed in between our respective conversations. The emerging story of the tension between the Gs and Gourd Brothers was slowly stealing Carter's attention and descriptive diligence. Carter gradually crossed through the thresholds of self and other, reality and unreality, fruit and vegetable, good and bad, then and now-assuming the masterful constructions of his colleague, Lilly-tacitly analyzing the plausibility of her visual exploits and the merit of her explanations. …

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