When I was a kid, I was a remarkably gifted visual artist. This lasted until I was about 12 and a half, at which point my talent stagnated. Now, at 32 and a half, I am a proud and pitiful craftster, with projects that an 8th grader would laugh at. I’m also the daughter of an art teacher, adding insult to injury. Still, even with my adult undertakings of popsicle stick pencil holders and business card holders created from Boca Burger containers, the sentiment — you’ve gotta admit — is there.
It is this love for childlike, heartfelt art — mixed with my passion for creatively advocating for animals — that made me take notice when I learned about a the sweetly-titled Compassion in Art Project, a collection of 40 colorful hand-drawn posters made by 3rd graders in Auburn, California, all aimed at promoting animal adoption. The project is a community service activity organized by Audrey Reighley, a volunteer from A New Hope Animal Foundation. According to the school’s principal, Suzanne Flint, the student artists hope that their drawings, which are currently being displayed at the Placer County Animal Shelter, encourage those seeking an animal companion to go the adoption route.
Fostering this kind of compassion for animals in young children is not only a necessary ingredient in making them caring, empathic grown-ups, but giving them the platform to explore this through artistic means is deeply powerful. In addition to allowing the kids the ability to express their natural kid-tendency to care about animals (it’s only as we grow up that this inclination frequently becomes muddied by society), when it comes to kids’ artwork, grown-ups notice. That’s because there’s basically nothing cuter than bobble-head kitties with long magic marker whiskers. In this case, however, when adults look closer, they’ll see a meaning much bigger than they realized; if kids can see the importance of saving the lives of animals who would otherwise be killed, shouldn’t we adults be able to see it too?
Lastly, it should be noted that it is clear that my own artistic prowess could stand a few lessons from the 3rd graders at Rock Creek Elementary School. Not only are they wickedly more talented than me, but, my goodness, they already have an exhibition! Inexplicably, my work usually winds up in the recycling bin.