“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein
Summer is here and it’s time to play! With more kids out of school the Museum is filled with the easygoing spirit these warm months embody. NCM has always been a place where imagination reigns and anyone who visits can let their creative energy burst wherever it will.
So it’s absolutely fitting that NCM is now playing Harold and the Purple Crayon in the Tech Studio. In this charming book turned film, a little boy named Harold travels the night alone with his purple crayon and creates a dream adventure on his own terms. When Harold decides to take a walk one night he realizes he needs a moon, so he draws one! And because he’s made his own moon, it stays with him and lights his path the entire way. He draws a forest where he thinks a forest ought to be; he creates a ship and a sea to sail on. Whatever Harold wants to experience, he draws and composes all the accessories and delights he thinks a proper adventure should have, navigating his new world of course with his big PURPLE crayon.
In this way, Harold becomes somewhat of an ambassador for the inventiveness all children possess. This story is not only adorable and fun to watch, but more importantly it speaks to the power of imagination found especially in children and their distinct ability to create a world based on their unique outlook. His adventure is limitless and his crayon becomes the compass of his creativity.
As a gallery guide at NCM, I’m privileged to witness this boundless energy and help shape kids imaginations all day long! And that’s not to say they’re not shaping mine in the process.
For example, one of my favorite areas downstairs is the shadow puppet theater. This is where kids get to cut out shapes from paper to make their own shadow puppet stories with a screen of projected light. Sometimes it’s difficult to create a puppet without using any pen to draw a dog or a ship or even a funny face. But that supposed lack of resources opens a whole new world of puppet possibilities.
Just the other day I was sitting with a group of lively school kids and a few were at a loss for what to create. One girl, named Maribel had a genius idea. “Well,” she addressed the group like a director, “Let’s try cutting out shapes and see what we think they are!” Brilliant! So we started with seemingly strange shapes and came up with a theater of new characters. A circle with a door cut out became a mermaid grotto, and a long squiggly line became a new strand of seaweed. With their freshly cut puppets these kids told an underwater story all their own.
Like Harold with his purple crayon, these kids dictated their own direction in their art and bolstered their self-sufficiency to decide what they wanted to see. Pablo Picasso once said, “All children are born artists,” and that couldn’t be any truer. When fostered early on, creativity grows exponentially and affects all who come across its contagious energy. Imagination is a powerful tool and being able to shape perspective through art is an ability that can change the world.
—Angella d’Avignon, Gallery Guide