I could have been a Prodigy.
While browsing through the selections at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, I came across the documentary I Could Paint That, which scrutinizes societies obsession with child prodigies.
Marla Olmstead, the little girl in the image above and who is featured in the doc, has had her work exhibited inÂ art shows since before she could ride a bicycle. She has sold over 300,000 worth of her art. Her family must be very proud.
Here is some parental adviceÂ (I have no children of my own but, I love to give advice on child rearing)Â -Â Â If you want yourÂ kid to make more money than you before he or she hits puberty, convince everyone around you that he/she is an art prodigy, rather than something that requires more tangible proof.
Artistic genius is really in the eye of the beholder, and if you make these bold claims that your kid is the next Einstein, well, you’re going to have to get him a little lab coat, and oh yes – he needs to actually do something scientific. But with art? No sweat.Â Make sure that their style is also something really abstract. Perhaps they can specialize in rows of chicken scratches. Maybe you prop up their chubby little arm, give it a swirl or two -Â is that a crime, really? It is really art? Is your child the slightest bit talented? Who cares? As long as you can get enough people and enough press to believe that the fruit of your loins is the next Michelangelo, you’re made in the shade.
… Oh, it also helps if you are white/upper middle class, and you can afford a publicist. If you are not, tough noogies.