Children’s Response to What is Art?

For this entry, I went to CAASL’s Campus Kids program to ask the 4th-6th grade children their opinions on what art is. As Henri Matisse said, “Look at life with the eyes of a child.” Here is a collection of their responses.

Do you like art?

(Angelica, age 11): Yes.

(Lizzy, age 11): I love it!

(Jamal, age 11): Eh, I can go for it.

(Patrick, age 11): No, not really.

(Meadow, age 9): Yes.

(Maddie, age 11): Yes.


What’s your favorite kind of art to create?

(A): My favorite is painting. I like to paint sunsets and galaxies.

(L): Animals, but I am okay with anything.

(J): I like painting.

(P): I like to paint things that can help someone. Like robots that people can have to help them in life if they are old.

(M): Mosaic. I like cutting and pasting paper.

(M): I like to draw. I like to draw cartoon characters. I don’t make them up, I copy cartoon characters that I’ve seen on T.V.


How do you feel when you create art?


(L): Really good! I love art!

(J): It calms me down.

(P): It depends on what emotion the drawing is.

(M): Happy.

(M): I feel happy.


Have you ever been to an art museum?

(A): No.

(L): Yes, because of my grandma took me once to a military museum. It had some art in it. Like pictures and paintings.

(J): No.

(P): Yes.

(M): Nope.

(M): No.


How do you feel when you look at art? What are your emotions? Are they always the same emotions when you look at every piece of art?

(A): I feel happy. What I feel depends on the picture though.

(L): Yes. I feel different things depending on the skill of the art. If it is sad picture, then I feel sad. If it is a really cool picture, then I get excited.


(P): No feelings.

(M): Happy. Some art that is sad makes me feel sad though.

(M): I feel surprised because it is good. But I don’t always feel surprised. I feel a different emotion if it is a different picture, like a sad picture.


What is art?

(A): Painting, drawing, and anything creative.

(L): Art is a time to relax and calm down. It is like dancing and music. It is art in the way that it makes me feel. Gymnastic and dancing make me feel good and so they are art.

(J): Expression of feelings.

(P): Art is fun…. sometimes. There is art in a lot of subjects because we get to draw stuff. So drawing is art. So is coloring. Biking is different than art though because you move your hands.

(M): Art is building. And, like, making stuff. I drew art on my math poster project. Math is a little bit art. Adding reminds me of art.

(M): Art is things that you make up and you don’t copy. It is creativity.


Conclusion: It was interesting to see the wide variety of responses from the children. There was a general consensus of enjoying art, but what they considered art was unique to each child. I really liked Jamal’s response that art is an expression of feelings. He seemed like a very mature and down to earth kid. I also found Patrick’s comment that he likes to create art that helps people interesting and different. In general, I was pleased at how positive the kids were about the subject of art. Although not all of them said they necessarily liked art, as the conversation continued they showed more and more interested and appreciation in the topic. The feeling “happy” came up many times. There were some inconsistencies in their responses that confused me. For example, when I asked Maddie what art she liked to create, she said she likes to copy cartoon characters she sees on T.V., but then when I asked her what art is, she said it is things that you make up and don’t copy. I was also confused by Patrick’s reasoning for why biking isn’t art.  The fact that that more kids hadn’t been to an art museum surprised me. Although it is great that they are creating art, I think it is beneficial for them to see and experience other people’s art in person too.

Overall, this was a really fun exercise for me. Hearing the kids’ raw, innocent, and somewhat naïve responses was a nice refresher from reading philosophy texts.


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