Projects > Current Projects (2015 - present)

Seen + Heard
Seen + Heard

JULY 1 - 31

Seen + Heard is in residence at the Art Institute of Chicago museum during July.

Seen + Heard is a social arts project by Rachel L. S. Harper, which promotes and advocates for cultural works made by people ages 0-12. This summer in the Ryan Education Center at The Art Institute of Chicago museum with collaborators Brandon Gilbert and Sandro Murillo, Rachel is establishing the first living repository of children’s visual art, music, philosophy, science, theater, poetry, political actions, and other powerful works from across time and around the world.

Children represent about 25% of the U.S. population, and are widely recognized to be prolific cultural workers when allowed to play freely and create. Further, the personal educator-practices of all of the researchers working in this space are driven by meaningful collaboration and brilliant dialogue with thousands of child artists and philosophers. And yet, the works of children’s own invention are rarely treated as serious contributions to the mainstream arts landscape, and our greatest museums, libraries, and textbooks all leave out the powerful knowledge that children produce. Why does this happen? How can we correct these practices?

What is worth knowing or doing? Who gets to say? For whose benefit?

Without children’s knowledge, we as a global society of knowers only ever hold a partial image of our existence, our communities, our problems, and our world. Further, that partial image only reflects the perspectives of people who have outgrown the important wisdom that is unique to childhood. And so, the purpose of beginning this archive is to establish a platform that reveals the wisdom of children’s self-motivated works in many fields. Instead of further relegating children’s work to separate sites, the intention of this archive is to advocate for their inclusion by amplifying proof that children have as many rights to cultural validity as any non-child enjoys without question.

Thanks to 3Arts, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Art Institute of Chicago, and 66 individual supporters, we are collecting artifacts of cultural works by people ages 0-12. Over the fall we will categorize, code, and analyze the works, looking deep into the concept of children’s wisdom. To close this year of Seen + Heard in the winter, we will present these examples in an exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, opening in February of 2017.

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