When renowned abstract expressionist Robert Goodnough created his paintings, he probably didn’t have an audience of 3-year-olds in mind — and when New Jersey built its performing arts center (NJPAC) in Newark, playing to preschoolers probably wasn’t high on the list of justifications. These days, however, both are regularly pressed into service to help young children develop a broader range of skills. Most people agree that exposing young children to the arts helps them develop but there hasn’t been enough said about how this should happen. That’s changing thanks to a series on children and the arts created by Caucus: New Jersey with funding from the PNC Foundation.
In the first segment, developmental psychologist and NIEER research coordinator Judi Stevenson Boyd is joined by Alfredo Franco of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, Ronnie Ragen at the Trenton Community School, and Caitlin Evans Jones from NJPAC for a discussion about leveraging the arts to the advantage of preschoolers. It’s a dynamic discussion with concrete examples provided by all. Looking at Goodnough’s 1964 work (untitled), it’s easy to see why Franco chose it to help preschoolers find their own inner expressionist.