Preschoolers learn their art can offer a way to give back to the community


critic might say reimagining Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” with Cheerios is an artistic risk only a toddler would take. 

And they’d be right, at least when it comes to Bedrock Preschool. These young artists — ranging in age from infants to 4 years old tapped their inner Picasso to contribute canvases of bluish green work, all for the Spuyten Duyvil school’s annual art gala. 

Running between June 18 and June 22 at  3220 Arlington Ave., this unique show benefits the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp. 

“They do so much for the (Hudson River) greenway,” said Mego Gojka, Bedrock’s director of admission and enrollment, including hosting the recent RiverFestBX on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. 

But because art value is determined by what people pay for it, parents and the community will have a chance to bring that work home with an art auction, also benefitting KRVC.

Parents are an important part of the Bedrock curriculum, Gojka said. For a recent art assignment, teachers sent each child home with a mystery bag of materials which the whole family could join together to create their own piece.


Gaudeamus igitur

The gala itself is paired with preschool graduation, giving many of the parents a chance to see what their children have created all year. Teachers work with the children on art projects year-round, with each lesson arriving with a new theme. Last year the students focused on creativity through recycling.

The gala not only showed off the children’s understanding of Jackson Pollock’s drip painting technique, but also to teach kids about lines, primary colors, secondary colors and even communication.

“Art is great because they have to use their language,” Gojka said. “If there’s one purple crayon on the table, they have to ask themselves, ‘How am I going to get that?’” 

In addition to having their work displayed, students also were given art certificates to make it official, program director Cynthia Nieves said. 


Problem solving

But it’s not just about art — it’s science and problem solving as well.

The tots used cardboard boxes, egg cartons and Styrofoam packaging in some pieces. But in order to express their creativity, they had to figure out what colors would show on the plastic medium, and what would stick when they used glue.

Although there is no official art history course at the preschool, teachers did make a conscious effort to teach children who artists like Pollock, van Gogh and Pablo Picasso were. The children spent so much time with the work of these famed artists, Gojka said, they eventually were able to recognize the difference between the styles and paintings. 

Their inspired pieces were hung throughout various rooms in the airy space. 

Even the 3-month-olds were working on their motor and instruction skills, Gojka said. Moving their fingers over the canvas and listening when told not to put their hands in their mouths helped with their developing operational aptitude.

Nieves pointed out one painting made by rolling marbles covered in paint over paper. “This one right here, I would frame it.”

The certificates were not the only things validating the children’s work. The gala space was white and welcoming of color and imagination, much like a museum. Natural sunlight poured through the windows and over the canvases of the children’s work.

 “You know what the amazing thing about art is?” Gojka asked. “Every child feels successful.”