Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Toys As Creative Tools

"Chip Off the Old Block" Elizabeth McGhee 2010. Oil on panel

Toys are some of the first objects of our education and so are deeply embedded in our consciousness. Toys are often viewed naively and with innocence, taking us back to a time when we felt that way ourselves. But my work is not about nostalgia, though it utilizes it at times. I am using nostalgia as an emotional tunnel back in time for my viewers. I want to reconnect my viewers with the creativity and possibility that existed in their own play.

Toys are tools for the developing child, not just subliminal controls introduced by adults. A child uses toys to make sense of the world around him; they serve an intellectual function for him as well as a cultural one. Children do more than merely "mimic" adults, they also creatively elaborate on otherwise menial everyday tasks. The ability of the child to make a game of almost any situation is a gift many of us have abandoned as we matured.

In our professional society we dread being seen as immature or uninformed. We must act as adults and reject anything that might be seen as childish weakness. We must put away our toys in favor of tools.

But I feel that toys are tools for both children and adults, even if they serve different purposes for each. For children toys allow a safe introduction to the world around them. For adults toys can serve in the place of abstract concepts, making them more real and understandable.

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