How Childhood Inspires Artists and Their Art


With works by 40 artists, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston examines many aspects of the lives of children.

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston has bold ambitions for “To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood,” its thematic group exhibition that explores how visual artists have been inspired and influenced by children and childhood, on view through Feb. 26.

“Children and childhood, their role in society,” said Jill Medvedow, the institute’s director, “their visibility or invisibility, their creativity, their resilience, and their plight, have for a long, long time — decades, centuries — been a source of interest, engagement and concern for artists.”

Combined with the “sense of urgency that we collectively feel about children” — from education equality and immigration to the impact of the pandemic — Ms. Medvedow said, “this show gives us the opportunity to shine a spotlight on children anew.”

The project started with a simple question to artists: What about childhood provided the spark that led you to embrace the topic in your practice?

The exhibition incorporates design and accessibility elements for children, like low-hanging artworks and age-appropriate wall labels so younger children can easily view and read them. It includes a reading room, an interactive drawing table where visitors can make their own works, and a series of special programs.


Childhood experiences have a huge impact on artists’ practice. One of the sections of the exhibition is called draw like a child. Abstraction, free-thinking, free association, and non-narrative thinking are some of the characteristics regarding children’s way of creating. “The Page Is a World examines the world of children’s literature and artists’ contributions. “I love this idea of how artists interpret as children, for children, about children,” Children’s picture books are a vast world of research. Caretakers have an important and responsible role regarding encourage children’s creativity and securing their rights and safeness. When we talk about fostering creativity what has been produced to prepare parents, and teachers for example? Getting to know better the types and patterns of childhood is also getting to know better our History. Childhood is the beginning of all of our paths as humans. Reclaiming a childhood mindset to make art is something really present in modern and contemporary art.


Mohn, T. (2022, Oct 21). How Childhood Inspires Artists and Their Art. The New York Times.